CLEARWATER, Fla -- A former firefighter and paramedic hopes he can arm people with the tool they need to save someone from an opioid overdose.
Luis Garcia travels the state of Florida and teams up with non-profits to hold classes and hand out Narcan.
"If you lost your pulse and you lost your breathing and had an overdose, you died today,” he said.
He’s a retired 28-year firefighter and paramedic and says this is what he used to tell patients after he revived them. He thinks folks battling addiction carry around a stigma that needs to be broken.
"I was just trying to numb myself. I didn’t wanna feel anymore,” said Jeffrey Solum, who was revived from an overdose a few months ago. He’s been addicted to drugs and alcohol since he was 13.
"Narcan saved my life,” he said.
It’s potentially saved dozens more in the Bay Area.
The Tampa Police Department has used the nasal spray drug 84 times since last November.
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has used it 36 times during that time frame and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has administered it 4 times.
"Now I feel a sense of gratitude and gratefulness that I was able to come back because not everybody makes it back,” said Solum. He's been attending the Square One Addiction program to overcome his addiction.
But his addiction is forever ongoing. It’s why Garcia buys the drug in bulk with his own money to pass out to folks that want to help.
"Ground Zero for opioids is not a private residence, not addiction facilities, it is actually parking lots and restrooms,” he said.
Garcia is holding an event Wednesday in New Port Richey to pass out Narcan to folks that take his two-hour course. Click here for details. You must call him and register through his Facebook page to attend.