A Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputy is being hailed as a hero after using an emergency antidote drug to save the life of a woman suffering from an opioid overdose, authorities said.
Deputy Nick Cortez was on vacation Thursday and was on his way to a family gathering when he saw a disturbance near his Bayou Black home, authorities said. Someone was performing CPR on an unconscious woman who appeared unresponsive.
The deputy alerted dispatchers about the medical emergency and was told EMS personnel were on the way.
Cortez, who’s served with the Sheriff’s Office for seven years, determined the woman was likely suffering from an opioid overdose and instructed one of the people on the scene to keep the woman’s airway open, authorities said.
The deputy sprinted to his patrol vehicle, which was parked nearby his home, and retrieved a Naloxone kit. Also known as Narcan, Naloxone is a drug that all deputies have which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and helps victims wake up and continue breathing, allowing time for first-responders to arrive.
A state law passed in 2014 gives paramedics, firefighters and police the authority to carry and administer the antidote to people suffering from opioid overdoses, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says kill 115 Americans each day.
Cortez then administered the Narcan through the woman’s nose, and she regained consciousness, the Sheriff’s Office said. The victim was transported to a local hospital, where she was listed in stable condition.
Col. Terry Daigre, chief criminal deputy, praised Cortez for his quick thinking and heroic actions that saved the woman’s life.
“We are fortunate to have this life-saving tool on hand, and fortunate to have someone like Deputy Cortez at our agency,” Daigre said. “When he saw an emergency situation, while off duty, reacting quickly and decisively, most likely saving a woman’s life in the process.”
Thursday’s incident marked the third time deputies have used Narcan in the past two weeks, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Lisa Schilling, South Central Louisiana Human Services director, along with Daigre and Leilani Burnet, the local coordinator for Louisiana Substance and Mental Health Services, secured 100 Narcan doses and training for deputies.
“These resources are important,” Daigre said. “But they are not a solution to illegal or abused opiates in our community. Our ability to save lives in an emergency with Narcan should not give false confidence to drug users, who need to get help and stop now.”
As a law enforcement officer, Cortez said his service to the community never takes a vacation.
“In a job like this you’re always on duty even when you’re off,” Cortez said. “This job has engraved my mind in a way that would never let me do that.”