Crazy Six Minutes for Volunteer Firefighters: To the Brink of Death and Back

Generic Stock File Photo Emergency Lights Fire Police Ambulance Bokeh by Oliver Cory

Stock photo by Oliver Cory

Tonight firefighters and medical personnel raced to the side of a man in his twenties who had overdosed and was unresponsive, according to a report over the scanner. For privacy reasons, we’re not releasing his age and address.

In the course of six minutes, the report went from the man was down and unresponsive, to CPR was in progress, to Narcan was administered, to he was back and refusing to be taken to the hospital (also known as AMA–against medical advice).

From the brink of death to a miracle to refusing help in six short minutes…





  • Narcan is amazing. Saving lives, if not sanity. Kudos to the VFD & other responders for their quick action.

    • First Responders rock!!!

    • And kudos to them for getting out of their beds and saving a life yet again. Whenever I despair about our society, I think about our first responders and medical personnel going out and repeatedly saving people who are struggling on the margins of society. That is human compassion.

      • Absolutely agreed!!! The getting out of bed in the middle of he night, is just one more reason they Rock!!!!

        • *Highest Regard For First Responders*

          These firefighters and medical first responders are a very special breed of people! If you have never needed them in a time of crisis, you might not understand. These men and women many times put their lives on the line to try to save yours. They do not have time to ponder if you are worthy of their services or not. That is not their mindset!

          My wife and I were once cut out of our VW bug that was hit head on by a drunk driver.
          These firefighters and first responders are a rare group of people that many times don’t even get thanked or acknowledged, for their emergency life saving services.

          These people are the best examples of humanity on the planet!!!

      • Thank you for saying that, Kym. It’s beautiful — and true.

      • Speaking soothing words in the face of self destructive behavior on the internet is not doing good. Doing good is doing good. When providing for an immediate need, the need takes precedence over any analysis of root causes.

        However the comments section is a very good place to examine cause and effect. No one is saved from immediate peril in the comment section.

    • Narcan is saving the lives of junkies who are social parasites. Yes it works. I’ve seen it work. It ruins a opiate high quickly. You wanna know what that guy did after being brought back to “life”??? Huh? He went and scored and got another fix of drugs…. that’s what he did. I say let em die.

  • Narcan isn’t new. We were carrying injectable naloxone on Fire/Rescue in the mid-seventies. Nasal form wasn’t available in those days. It is amazing. I’ve had OD’s that weren’t breathing on arrival, bitch me out for harshing their high! Just as amazing is the response to an injection of 5% dextrose to a patient in diabetic coma. Almost instantaneous recovery.

  • Popcorn is a miracle if you don’t understand popcorn. Interfering with Darwinism is bad juju.

  • Groba dude trustafarian osnt

    If people want to kill themselves, should we let them?

    This person was revived, but for how long? And at what cost?

    I call Narcan a paradox, one which I can’t morally carry or administer.

  • I have absolutely no sympathy for those people who want to try and kill themselves over and over. They are a burden on society (my tax dollars). And yes, I have known addicts in the past. My first sentence still stands.

    • I also have known addicts, including those who have beaten their addiction and those who have not. I believe that human life is unique and valuable- regardless of the current circumstances one finds themself in. This Is especially true for anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to consistently care for themselves (ie. the unborn, babies, physically or mentally disabled and addicts).
      We, as Americans, have a false view that many people with these disabilities are victims of their own poor choices and that they simply need to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps”. Incorrect. While personal choice does play a role, addiction is strongly correlated with several factors outside of the individuals control.
      Regardless of where you put the blame (on the addicted person, on their biopsychosocial circumstances, I do hope that you’ll agree with me on two points.
      1. Human life is valuable regardless of how much “value” someone may appear to have
      2. Prevention and treatment are more effective, humane and affordable than incarceration.

      • Clean and Sober in Mendo

        Thank you. I totally agree. I actually just wrote an essay about Childhood trauma linked to substance abuse. It may be the persons choice to use the initial time but once a person is addicted they are rarely able to just stop or recover without some sort of counseling or treatment.. The addiction is deeper than what is seen.. And some people’s “rock bottom ” is lower than others. I smoked Meth and drank alcohol for 10 years. Hit my rock bottom and cleaned up. I’ve been clean and sober for 3 years now… Everybody deserves another chance….
        … Unless your a child molester… But that’s off the subject….

  • Only in the movies

  • What I don’t understand is why people act so harshly towards the individuals with an addiction issue. Yes, this county has an addiction problem just like the rest of the United States. People act as if someone who has an addiction is just outright evil. Judging somebody and making extremely thoughtless comments about them making attempts to kill themselves “over and over” is one of the biggest problems when it comes to the issue of addiction. If you had a loved one that you had to watch and deal with going through an addiction, would you simply just “not care”? What about a son or daughter? And to continue to complain about the wasted tax dollars going forth in an effort to save a struggling individuals life, but not point out the fact that every time I see any road construction going on in Humboldt there are about 5 workers standing around watching one guy operate a machine, is BS. Pick the more important issues to complain about if you are really going to bring up the debate of wasted tax dollars, not just shooting down individuals you consider worthless in your eyes. Or the fact our county is taxing every single grower either indoor or outside based on an inaccurate assumption of canopy sizes differing from grower to grower? Help others get the help they truly need instead of shooting them down and judging them.

    • Individuals with addiction issues cause a lot of damage. Before their families couldn’t deal with them anymore and they left (either of their own accord or because they were not longer welcomed there), how much damage, thievery and discord did that individual inflict there? Once homeless, how many people become that persons maid? How many people become the victim of that persons thievery? How many persons become the victim of that persons intoxicated behavior? How many children get to see that individual passed out on a sidewalk or acting aggressively and/or agitatedly? How many people get to watch that individual move their bowels? How many businesses need to clean up that business just to open, and then how many businesses lose business due to these individuals?

      Compassion wears then when the individual will take good again and again and again, and not make any effort to lessen their impact on society, instead taking that good as a sign that what they are doing is okay, and their right.

      It is not okay, and it is not their right.

      • I agree, Sara

      • too much freedom to make unsavory choices that impacr the rest of society in negative ways, rather our tax dollars go to people who are trying to improve the world

      • I agree that addicted people can be very hard to deal with. This can be especially true for people who see the negative consequences every day. It’s easy to allow ones’ thoughts to be the driven by pain, frustration and anger. It’s easy to see the trash, syringes, aggressive begging etc. and to blame these on any addicts or homeless people they see.
        It’s hard to see each person as unique and valuable, but we must. We can’t blame every homeless-linked problem on every addict we see. It may help to remember that the person dying in front of your eyes isn’t the same person who left a syringe on your street or who pawned your camera for a fix. You don’t know the biopsychosocial contributors to their disability. For all you know, the person wasting away infront of your eyes may be the young mom who left as abusive relationship and got addicted while doing whatever she had to to survive. They could be a son who ran from an abusive home only to be exploited on the streets.
        Regardless of the circumstances, addicted people will create of a negative impact on the community if they have access to individualized treatment. Our current ostracism-mindset is only making the problem worse. We need to increase social
        supports for addicts. This is the least expensive and most efficient way to help those who suffer addiction as well as the communities they impact.

    • Veteran's friend

      Thank you “thinkaboutit” for the logical & compassionate response. There are folks who understand what you write, and who agree.

  • Man was that guy lucky people came and saved him. Such good people!

    They prolly used a bezoar. That’s how Harry cured Ron from something like this.

  • You people are disgusting! I realize it’s bad out there but you take the cake. Why should we save humanity for you? This idea that you are a better human being than them is ridiculous. Maybe without people like you in the world, people like that would have a better chance of coming out of it.

  • If there is a drug problem in Humboldt as bad as you folks say, don’t they have Methadone clinics there and if not why not.

    • No methadone clinics, inadequate (quantity and quality) rehabs, the one needle exchange under fire and soon to be closed. And an in-and-out policy at the county jail.
      Why not? Because hate prevails in Humboldt.
      The homeless get attacked, set on fire, and/or arrested for the horrible crime of non-ownership. The users get let out of jail at 2am- sometimes a hundred miles from home. The dealers get released and resupplied within 24 hours. The good ‘ol boys (aka rednecks , aka KKK) own the police, the judges, and the law. And if your skin isn’t lily-white you might as well paint a target on your back. But not on your front, because they are too cowardly to actually confront you face-to-face.
      Why? Because hate prevails in Humboldt. And we don’t even need the churches to spread it.

  • For all you”goodie two shoes”… PLEASE don’t stop for that car that just crashed- the guys is always racing all over town- he must have a death wish… PLEASE don’t donate your organs- the alcoholic doesn’t need the kidney or liver… PLEASE don’t rescue the sky diver, whose parachute didn’t open- they obviously had a death wish- jumping out of a good plane… Give me a break you say, they are all just looking for that “RUSH” that escape for just a moment… Well guess what- that is what an edict is looking for- that “RUSH” that “escape”… I am not condoning the drug use, but if you look at it as what it is, you might be surprised how many times each of you reach for the bottle of booze, the cigarette, the gas peddle, the escape, the rush.

    • But of course you are doing just that. Condoning it. Us do gooders do have our addictions but the line is drawn at harming others in the pursuit of it. Even stopping it at the point we think it is too likely to interfere with the rest of our lives and obligations. That’s one of the things that seem to earn the contempt of those whose life revolves totally around their own impulses. Yes, being called a do gooder is the twisted insult of those who find it incredible that people actually can be more interested in being good than joining them in their self destructive life styles.

      I think that addicts are so involved in their addiction that they believe that everyone else must be too. But they aren’t. There is universe out there of people whose life revolves are everything else but addiction. At least their own. Addicts seem to be very intent on dragging them into their world and blaming them for their own problems.

      • So people who seem to speed in their cars like maniacs stop at some point… haha right. like the “i will just have more more beer” doesn’t keep happening… I call your bull shit… There are addicts to facebook, addicts to pokemon, addicts to most anything that helps people escape the “real world” and whether or not you want to admit it, it is true

        • No. There are people “addicted” to many things but the difference is a momentary over indulgence only rarely – very rarely- leads to theft, violence, homelessness etc. The drug addict on the other hand is an every widening ripple of damage to all those surronding them as soon nothing is below them to get what they need.

          Equating the foolishness of Pokemon to meth or heroin or other addicting stuff is beyond unreal. I call bullshit on those to insist on saying it is. That is a total lack of perspective.

  • Which volunteer fire department was involved? Additionally, yes, addicts do bad things and I sympathize with the victims of their addiction. But if you’ve communicated with any, you might come to the same conclusion I have: addiction is often caused by a genetic predisposition to addictive behavior, some truly horrendous earlier experiences, little or no self-esteem, and attempts to self-medicate. There are no simple answers or simple solutions to this problem. But try to feel at least some compassion, and remember that the greatest victims of addictive behavior are the addicts themselves.

    • If I state the fire department, it helps narrow to the specific area this occurred. And, I’m really just trying to point out the difficulties faced by all fire departments and medical personnel as well as just nod towards a huge problem of overdose deaths/medical emergencies we have in the area.

    • It’s too bad that those expressing a great deal of sympathy for drug addict have so little sympathy for the rest of the population forced to deal with the addiction fueled violence, criminality, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, medical and legal costs of addicts. Some reality in the midst of all that addict focused attention is needed. There are alternatives available other than addiction for help with all those things you mention but the choice is made to take care of problems with the easier alternative of drug use. The term recreational drug should cause a shudder of abhorrence but it doesn’t. People should be so afraid of getting caught in drug addiction they run from it but they aren’t. Speaking of drug addicts with sympathy as helpless victims of society and their genes only makes it worse. A person may be genetically prone to becoming more easily addicted (probably) but they have a choice not to start and saving one person from starting is worth 10 recovery programs.

  • I’m glad the guy was brought back and that there are so many compassionate, responsible, first responders, amongst us. But mostly i think the ‘drug’ problem is overrated to keep the 1,000 HHS (federal) do-gooders paid.

    California’s issues are serious greed and apathy.

  • I have compassion for people but at some point enough is enough. The examples given above are not comparable. The sky diver is not comparable to some of these addicts. Is the sky diver stealing from us, using public spaces as a bathroom and leaving potential diseased biohazards around? When my kids can’t play in the parks because of these things… where is the compassion for our children because of adults??

    • WhoAreThesePeople?

      Yes, enough is enough! We should only have compassion toward someone that we are related to! To actually care about a human! How dare us! Nevermind the broken bottles of Lagunitas and Great White ale left by the yuppie students- they paid $180k for the privelege of shaping our communities to their drunken standards!
      My kids don’t go to parks in Eureka or Arcata either. Why? I don’t want them rolling around in all that glass and dog shit. The addicts are numerous- and their numbers are growing. I see a meth problem here. I see a heroin problem here. A blind man can see those. But what about our cocaine problem? We don’t hear about that because the poor can’t afford the stuff. And what about our alcohol problem? What? You think because it’s legal it’s not a drug? And the pills! Every yuppie I meet has a bottle of Vicodan laying around somewhere.
      So go ahead- wash down your (legal) opioids with (legal) booze, snort your rails on the bar at Six Rivers Brewery, then get in your brand-new 20-gal-per-mile truck (bought with Dad’s weed money) and careen from sidewalk to sidewalk to the mansion you were born in. All the while you can look down upon the rest of the community that you didn’t build, but are working furiously to destroy.
      Nobody is more dangerous to your children than you are.

  • Well now that all has been said and done from what I’ve read, maybe you folks need to get on your band wagon and demand that something be done other than your (quantity & quality) rehabs by bringing in Methadone. It does work. Not for everyone but for the majority. You do vote up there don’t you? I can tell you folks are intelligent, put your foot in whose ever ass you have to and get it done. When one thing doesn’t work then try something else until it does work. I believe you would be a lot happier. Just saying.

    • You forget that many of the people who the addicts rely on to fund everything that is demanded of them are working very hard to keep their own heads above water. They have their own bills to pay and is it too much to be accepted that getting up everyday and going to work while juggling care of children, elders and themselves should gain them a bit more respect than treating them as the carry all donkey for those who don’t? Way too many people are pretty blythe the about spending other people’s money, time and effort. Until I retired, I never had the time to even read these constant carps about what we owe those who are a drain and drag. How about honoring these people a bit more and spending less time putting ever more demands on them. How about a little apology proceeding the demands for more?

  • I have no sympathy for users, but should we say let them die? Not sure thats the way to go about it. I also dont think tax payers should foot the bill for savinging these people. I dont think tax payers should pay for any of their medical services. How many head to the er when they cant get their fix? They complain of pain so they can get a couple pills to help them get to their next fix. Who pays for that? Maybe instead of just letting these people go on their way they need to be taken to do community service right away. Clean up tje hospital grounds ,do some dishes, chop some fire wood for the ederly, pick up trash on the highway something. Something needs to be done soon. This person in the artical will probably overdose again. Maybe they have before. How many times can an individual be saved before medical responders just say fuck it, let them go this time. Someone else who actually contributes to society could have died because our valuble resources , first responders, were busy bring this addict back to life for the 5th time in 2 months. Where do you draw the line? When do you say enough is enough?

  • Kudos to the people who saved this persons life. Honestly I am torn with this. As a person who has an active heroin addict in the family and who has for years watched this person OD over and over again and has withered away to nothing at what point do you say enough is enough? He has hurt so many people especially his son. What kind of life is this to be a junkie? He won’t change. Numerous stints in rehab. I just dont know anymore. I don’t have much sympathy left.

  • I give up Kym.

  • Nobrainnoheadache

    This isn’t news this happens around 2-3 times a week on a slow week in humboldt. Ask anyone in the ER.

  • I do have sympathy for a person so self destructive that they repeatedly endanger themselves and others. I prefer that reasonable treatment is available for those sincerely wanting to straighten themselves out.

    But sympathy does not extend to dragging everyone else down to raise them up. They are not owed such. Other’s lives are not to be devoted to coping with their problems.

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