GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KREX) — Charles Balke, Clifton Fire Department Chief, says, “this is a huge issue and opioid overdoses can be lethal situations and the importance of having EMS responders trained properly and how to intervene in these situations truly can be a life-or-death situation.”

Clifton Fire Chief, Charles Balke and his responders have seen their fair share of overdose victims. A December 2021 article in Colorado Politics shows Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported the state lost 1,230 people to overdoses just between January 1st and August 31st of last year.

We’re also feeling this emergency right in our own backyard.

Balke also says, “over the past couple of years, many organizations, not unlike ours have seen a slight to a significant increase in the opioid overdose pandemic.”

Fire Chief Balke says law enforcement typically respond to calls first, but the fire department is always quickly behind, with trained personnel, ready to possibly save a life.

Balke added, “we’re averaging anywhere from 30 to 40 cases a year in which we’re actually administering or Narcan has been administered to the patient.”

Naloxone or Narcan isn’t just any drug, it’s a drug that could save the lives of thousands of Coloradans.

Governor Jared Polis recently announced the state will fund 1.8 million dollars for free access to Naloxone for local agencies, working with high-risk individuals to get the care they need, before it’s too late.

Balke also says, “it’s still new information coming out. We’re very hopeful that this is going to be something that has a very positive impact on all communities, specifically our community.”

The state’s Naloxone Fund, administered by the State Health Department’s Overdose Prevention Unit, provided more than 98,000 doses of Naloxone at no cost to 253 agencies across the state last year.

It’s the latest call to action to help put those fighting the crisis, just one more step ahead on the road to recovery.