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Free Narcan: Former firefighter donates own time and money to fight opioid epidemic

Luis Garcia says he spent money from his own savings on 800 Narcan devices, and he's done nearly 30 giveaways.

CLEARWATER, Fla. – A former firefighter and paramedic is now spending his time and money helping save lives in a different way. Instead of saving people from burning buildings or triaging car accident victims, Luis Garcia travels all over Florida giving away the opioid overdose antidote Narcan and training people on how to use it.

Garcia says he spent money from his own savings on more than 800 Narcan devices, and he’s conducted almost forty giveaways, which each include a two-hour training class.

“This is purely scientific for me and it’s very simple: we have a public health crisis, we have a tool that is far more effective than even an automatic defibrillator and it’s a lot cheaper than an A.D., why not get it out there everywhere?” said Garcia. “We have 83 confirmed saves, that’s just people who have picked up the phone, called, texted, Facebook messaged me and said ‘hey, can I get another Narcan? I used it to save somebody’s life.”

“The response has been amazing,” he added. “The surprising part has been the pushback by my peers, by the people in police, fire, EMS, corrections. Whether we want to sit here and say they’re burnt out or overwhelmed, they’re so overworked. There’s a lot of apathy and a lot of stigma even among people who are here to help folks.”

Garcia says, so far, 83 lives have been saved via the Facebook page for his organization, the South Florida Opioid Crisis Mortality Reduction Project.

Garcia was in the Tampa Bay area this week offering training sessions and giving away Narcan.

“I want to know how I can learn how to use it so I can help others out. Save other lives,” said Jeff Solum, who overdosed on heroin in May and was saved when paramedics used Nacan to revive him. “It’s a life-saving drug, it saved my life, why would we not want to have the ability to save other lives and to teach people how to properly use it.”

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