Life Savers in Our Midst!

On 04/07/2016

Life Savers In Our Midst!

Wednesday, March 30th, at 4:25 a.m., seemed like a typical shift at the Maple Arms Emergency Shelter of Harbor Homes.  A long-time and dedicated employee at the Shelter was taking advantage of the quiet hours to fill out some requisite paper work, when a guest came running and screaming into the office.  “He’s not breathing, and he looks gray!”

With only a split second to react, the staff member instinctively grabbed his cell phone and a Narcan kit, and ran to the apartment where the man was sleeping.  He promptly called 911 for emergency medical assistance, but as soon as he saw the guest, he knew he had to act fast.  With seconds to assess the situation, he recognized that the man showed signs of overdosing on some kind of substance.  Per the 911 dispatcher, the men moved the patient from the bed, put him flat on the floor and checked his breathing, which was shallow, and pulse, which was dangerously weak.  He then ripped open the Narcan kit, loaded the applicator, and began to administer the first dose.  With a little bit of a reaction from the patient, it looked as though the Narcan was helping.  But his breathing continued to be weak and erratic.  At that juncture, the Nashua Fire Department (NFD) was on the scene, and proceeded to administer two more doses of Narcan, knowing that there are no harmful effects with this protocol.  The NFD also had to simultaneously utilize a defibrillator, and within approximately 3 to 4 minutes, the patient became alert, awake and was able to talk to the NFD and the Paramedics.   The patient was transported by ambulance to the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center hospital, and was very fortunate to have been brought back to life, thanks to the diligence of those around him.

targetaddiction000009251068XSmallA very humble person, the Harbor Homes employee does not wish to have any recognition or accolades, and in fact doesn’t even want his name used, but he certainly deserves the praise.  In fact, when being congratulated by staff members, he stated:  “We are a team, and we all work together.  I think the guest who alerted me to the situation is a hero!  If it hadn’t been for him, no one would have known anything until it was too late.”

The Maple Arms Emergency Shelter does not allow the use of any substances, including alcohol, which is a best practice for the safety and well-being of all Shelter guests.  Sometimes, unbeknownst to the staff, guests break the rules.  Often times, substance use disorder is one of the primary challenges that ultimately contributes to the downward spiral into homelessness for many of our community neighbors.  Fortunately, the combination of being able to recognize the symptoms of an overdose, and the training to handle emergencies quickly and effectively, continues to save lives.




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