Overdose epidemic demands awareness

Carle Arrow Ambulance Services respond to about 5 opioid overdose calls a day. (WCCU)

International Overdose Awareness is August 31, but a Monticello mom spreads this message of awareness 365 days a year.

"I'm hoping to reach a lot of people, so they don't have to feel the pain that I feel," Connie Gyorr said.

Gyorr’s 20-year-old daughter, Marisa MacDuff, died from an opioid overdose in 2016.

"There’s a stigma about the types of people who overdose, but it has no discriminating factors," Gyorr said.

Medical Director of Carle’s Arrow Ambulance Services Dr. Michael Smith said about 45,000 people die from an overdose each year.

"There's no question that opioids are the number one health crisis in United States today,” Dr. Smith said.

This wasn’t always the case.

"What was once a once a week call is now a multiple times a day call.” Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith said Carle’s Arrow Ambulance Services responds to about five opioid overdoses a day. Fortunately, most of those calls end with a rescue.

Narcan, or Naloxone, is an overdose reversal drug used by paramedics.

It’s a life-saving remedy, but it can’t save everyone.

"The reality is there are others who are not found in time that EMS never interacts with,” Dr. Smith said. “Just to say it plainly, the only call is to the coroner."

Gyorr said Narcan could’ve saved her daughter—but for Marisa, no one called 911.

“She was with an acquaintance, and he did take her to the hospital, but he did not take her in," Gyorr said.

Gyorr continues to spread awareness with her cause "Marisa's Purpose." Marisa's Purpose sets out to educate others on the Good Samaritan Law-- a law that gives people who report overdoses to 911 immunity from being charged themselves.

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