Lt. Zach White was off duty on Valentine’s Day night.
The night shift patrol commander of the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department, Lt. White’s evening, so far, had been quiet.
But then an officer called his cell phone, which often means a decision is needed urgently. The details were worse than he expected. Toddler. Opioid. Unresponsive.
The officer asked, “Is it OK to give a 2-year-old naloxone?”
Lt. White quickly gave the officer the go-ahead and then anxiously turned on his portable radio to hear the outcome. Naloxone is a potentially life-saving drug that, if given quickly enough, can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
The clock was now ticking, with a child’s life on the line.
The boy and his mother were spending the night at a friend’s apartment, and the tot’s mom inadvertently left a prescribed opioid (Percocet) pill – which was to be taken the following morning – on a kitchen countertop.
About 9:40 p.m., she noticed the boy was chewing on something and saw a white foam around his mouth. She rushed to him to investigate. To her horror, she realized her son had somehow gotten to the opioid and had eaten part of it.
She immediately called 911 but watched helplessly as her son’s eyes closed and he began to go limp.
Within minutes, Officer Marcos Luna (who had called Lt. White’s cell phone on his way to the apartment) and Officer Sarah Jackson, arrived and found the boy lying on a couch, on the verge of total unconsciousness. Officer Luna shot a dose of naloxone vapor into the stricken boy’s nostril. Within a few moments, the boy regained consciousness – “cranky,” but alive and well. An ambulance took the boy to a local hospital. He was checked out and found to be in good health, with no serious aftereffects.
Officer Luna had the naloxone kit in his patrol car and was trained in its use, thanks to a grant from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas. The grant recipient, University of Arkansas System’s Criminal Justice Institute in Little Rock, supplied naloxone kits (and training) to 2,720 Arkansas law enforcement officers.
“I fought back tears of joy when I heard Officer Luna advise over the radio the naloxone had reversed the overdose and that the child was responsive,” Lt. White reported in an email to the Criminal Justice Institute and Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane. “This save of an innocent would not have been possible without this wonderful program. I wanted to thank both of you from the bottom of my heart for getting the word out and getting law enforcement the training and equipment to save lives in this manner.”
Executive Director Rebecca Pittillo said this latest live-saving incident further validates the Blue & You Foundation’s mission.
“We know that life is precious,” she said. “And we believe children deserve every chance to reach their full potential. So we are overjoyed to think that we have played some small part in helping to save this young life.”