The graveyard patrol shift already had been pretty eventful for Fullerton PD Officer Long Phan, with heavy rains stranding several motorists.
But at around 11:28 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, Phan’s shift was about to get even more eventful.
Phan, a military veteran who joined the FPD in May 2015, was the first patrol officer to arrive in response to a possible heroin overdose.
Inside a single-stall bathroom at a Park & Ride at 3000 W. Orangethorpe Ave., Phan found a 23-year-old may lying on his back.
The man’s breathing was labored, and Phan noticed a fresh puncture mark on his left arm, but no heroin kit or needle.
Phan came into the restroom prepared.
In December 2016, all FPD patrol officers were trained to administer the potentially lifesaving drug Naloxon to people believed to be in the throes of a heroin/opioid overdose.
The proactive move by the FPD came in response to a major increase in heroin- and opioid-related overdoses and deaths in recent years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin/opioid overdose death rates increased almost 21 percent from 2014 to 2015, with nearly 13,000 people dying in 2015 from heroin overdoses.
Naloxone, manufactured by Narcan, is a nasal spray that counteracts the life-threatening effects of heroin/opioid overdoses.
The FPD decided to equip its patrol officers with Narcan kits to use before paramedics arrive.
On Jan. 22, the scenario played out perfectly.
At first, Phan rubbed the male’s sternum to wake him up.
Realizing he had to act fast, Phan blasted 4 mg from Narcan’s 4 mg Naloxone Nasal Inhaler into the man’s right nostril.
In about 5 seconds, the man was taking deeper breaths and had a strong pulse.
Fullerton Fire paramedics soon showed up and were surprised to learn Phan was packing Narcan.
“You guys carry that now?” a paramedic asked the officer.
They credited Phan with saving the man’s life. The man was transported to a local hospital and later released.
“I’m absolutely proud to work at an agency that properly equips its officers with lifesaving tools,” Phan said.
The FPD would like to remind the public of California’s Good Samaritan Fatal Overdose Prevention Law, per Health & Safety Code 11376.5, which states that it “shall not be a crime for a person to be under the influence of, or to possess for personal use, a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia, if that person, in good faith, seeks medical assistance for another person experiencing a drug-related overdose that is related to the possession of a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia of the person seeking medical assistance, and that person does not obstruct medical or law enforcement personnel. No other immunities or protections from arrest or prosecution for violations of the law are intended or may be inferred.”