Legal Questions Prevent North Judson Firefighters from Carrying Narcan, Public Training Planned

A recovering addict from the North Judson area wants to make Narcan more widely available in Starke County, so local residents can live to have a chance at recovery. Kevin Glisic says he was an active addict for nearly 20 years. Now, he serves as the executive director of Moraine House, a recovery-based transitional house in Valparaiso.

Glisic met with the North Judson Town Council Monday to discuss offering Narcan training classes for both first responders and the general public. The training would be conducted by the Overdose Lifeline, a non-profit group based in Indianapolis. Public training sessions would be about an hour long, and residents would be given Narcan free of charge.

North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Chief Joe Leszek says drug overdoses have caused his department’s medical calls to triple in the past few years. A big concern is fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug often mixed with heroin. Leszek says firefighters now wear chemical-protective suits when responding to drug-related calls, to protect themselves from accidental overdose.

He says most of his firefighters have already been trained with Narcan, but they’ve stopped carrying it, due to legal concerns. “The reason we don’t carry Narcan right now is because the state is very unclear,” he explains. “We are a BLS non-transport department. So what that means for us is when we put in our state certification, there is not medication that we carry.”

Leszek is afraid that carrying the potentially life-saving drug could jeopardize the fire department’s certification. Officials from the Overdose Lifeline agreed to research the situation. Town Council President Wendy Hoppe also asked if grant funding may be available to purchase protective clothing for police officers.

Town officials expressed support for Narcan training and discussed some possible locations.