PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland firefighters saved a 15-month-old girl from a fentanyl overdose on Friday after she allegedly placed a piece of tinfoil used to smoke narcotics in her mouth, officials say.
“It’s pretty stressful when you deal with a pediatric call,” said Rick Graves with Portland Fire & Rescue. “These are significant events not only for our community but certainly for the responders. There are members of the crew who are affected, this has an effect on the men and women who respond in those big red rigs.”
Firefighters responded to a reported overdose on Hawthorne Boulevard in Southeast Portland around 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 22, Portland Fire & Rescue spokesperson Rick Graves told KOIN 6 News. Arriving on scene, firefighters found an off-duty paramedic successfully performing CPR on the toddler. Firefighters took over CPR duties, but were unable to get the child to breathe on her own.
During the rescue effort, a bystander told firefighters the child had previously spit up in a parking structure downstairs. Upon searching the garage, firefighters found a piece of tinfoil coated in fentanyl residue and decided to administer NARCAN to the child.
“Someone was sent down to grab that tinfoil and it was evident that there was fentanyl residue on the tinfoil,” Graves said. “Naloxone was administered and the child came back.”
The girl was successfully resuscitated and rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Her current condition is not known.
The child’s parents, who were in the garage the entire time, are cooperating with the ongoing investigation. Officials said they found “drugs, paraphernalia, foil, scales and torches” inside the family’s car when they searched it.
No arrests have yet been made. The Department of Human Services was notified, police told KOIN 6 News.
Although child overdose calls are rare, Graves said, the rescue was at least the second time Portland paramedics have administered NARCAN to a child in the past few months.
Danyelle Ramison helped save a 2-year-old in Beaverton who overdosed in March. Then, in June, three small children overdosed in separate incidents within a 10-day period — two of the victims were 1-year-olds and the other victim was a 3-year-old.
Graves says overdoses dominate fire crews’ call load and hopes that the reality of infants needing to be revived will mean action will be taken.
“I think everybody knows where we are and I’m hopeful we can utilize this moment, this opportunity, to catapult us into a pathway of success,” he said.
Portland Commissioner Rene Gonzalez shared his thoughts about the overdose and the state of Portland on social media Monday.
“This is a horrific reminder of how the drug crisis is destroying our community,” Gonzalez said. “We need [the] state legislature to address hard drug use. It is also time for the city and county to strongly consider declaring a public health emergency.”