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The South Florida Roundup

Narcan in Palm Beach County, the start of a new school year, and Surfside scammers

Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media

In response to a national opioid epidemic, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said it will allow its deputies to carry Narcan, the brand name for the drug naloxone. It’s a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The decision comes after years of protest from addiction recovery experts and families of overdose victims who advocated for the use of Narcan.

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PBSO’s decision to not carry Narcan was an outlier in Florida, where two-thirds of the sheriff’s offices issue Narcan and train their deputies, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Maureen Kielian, head of the Southeast Florida Recovery Advocates, told the South Florida Roundup she was surprised by the change in policy - the group had already been urging PBSO to carry Narcan for around eight years.

“We were just not gonna give up because it is so very very important,” she said. “It is a standard of care now, a standard with law enforcement and a standard for citizens and civilians to have Narcan on them, or in their car, in their house, anywhere.”

Dr. Marc Schlosser, an addiction medicine physician who helped develop opioid response programs at the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, said the drug naloxone is 'life-saving medication'.

He said that when an opioid hits a new receptor in the brain, it causes decreased respiration. Narcan has a stronger connection to that same receptor, which causes the opioid to be kicked off the receptor. This allows someone to breathe again.

“So it is critical that someone who is overdosing on an opioid be given Narcan,” he said. “So whoever gets there first should call 911, and then administer the Narcan."

With street drugs being increasingly laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl, Dr. Schlosser explained that it's more important than ever to be proactive and to have Narcan readily available everywhere.

“Anyone can administer it, you don’t have to be a professional,” he said.

Narcan deployment in Palm Beach County will require a separate $200,000 and will be discussed by Palm Beach County commissioners at their next budget hearing.

On the South Florida Roundup, we also talked to David Goodhue, Keys reporter for the Miami Herald about back-to-school in Monroe County. He said that in the Keys, teachers have different worries about the school year compared to teachers in mainland South Florida.

“In the Keys, it's cost of living,” he said. “I’ll give you an example, the median value of a home in the city of Key West is about $700,000. That’s compared to about $232,000 in the rest of the state.”

Finally, Jay Weaver, federal reporter for the Miami Herald, spoke to us about the scammers vying for a piece of the Surfside settlement fund. These bogus claims come from as far as Texas and Oregon, with so-called victims stating they were at the Champlain Towers South the night of the collapse.

Nearly all of these claims are from out of the state.

“There were people who claimed to be in units that didn’t even exist,” he said. “In other words, they gave numbers for units that were completely made up and they couldn't possibly have lived in them because they didn’t correlate with any units in the building.”

Listen to the full episode above.

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Natu Tweh is producer of The Florida Roundup and The South Florida Roundup at WLRN.