With CPD out of Narcan, two officers bought their own—and saved a woman’s life

“That’s what we’re here for... to save lives, to help others.”
Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 9:30 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - An Oakley woman would be dead right now without the life-saving actions of two Cincinnati police officers who revived her using a medicine they now have to buy on their own dime.

CPD Officers Tim Pappas, a 24-year veteran of the force, and Alexander McCoy, who has two years under his belt, responded to the woman’s home on her family’s concerns that she’d failed to show for a family dinner. They found her in her bed.

“I approached the victim and, honestly, I thought she was dead,” Pappas told FOX19 NOW on Thursday. “She was blue. She was cold to the touch.”

Then Pappas and McCoy saw the woman draw in her first feeble breath, and they quickly went to work.

The woman had taken what she believed to be cocaine. It turned out she’d ingested fentanyl as well—enough to kill her.

It didn’t, thanks to the officers, who administered her multiple doses of Narcan they were lucky to have on them.

“We’re fortunate that we were on the right call, with the right equipment, at the right time,” McCoy said, “because under any other circumstances, she would’ve died.”

Paramedics soon arrived with more Narcan, after which they transported the woman to the hospital.

The unfortunate reality of the situation is CPD ran out of Narcan during the pandemic, something the department revealed last week. That means officers like Pappas and McCoy, who say they respond to as many as six overdose calls on an average day, often have to rely on supplies of the life-saving medicine they’ve purchased over the counter.

The Cincinnati Fire Department and its medics are always the first call to overdoses, and they’re still equipped with Narcan. But in cases like this, where the officers are performing a welfare check and happen upon an overdose, not having doses on hand can make all the difference.

Narcan runs as low as $20 with insurance. Pappas and McCoy say the cost is nothing compared to the inestimable value of the lives they’ve saved.

“I did my job, and that’s what we’re here for—to save lives, to help others,” Pappas said. “It can’t be any more rewarding with the career path I took.”

Still, the incident highlights America’s endemic drug problem, as well as the tools—or lack thereof—with which first responders are asked to battle it.

“Addiction is a horrible, horrible thing,” McCoy said. “We see it day-in and day-out.”

The young officer explains compassion is a prerequisite when confronting someone with a drug problem.

“The most important thing is that, when you have someone who suffers like a person, you treat them like a person,” he said. “Because they are a person. They are someone’s son, someone’s daughter, a brother, a sister...”

McCoy adds he has seen the woman since she overdosed and that she’s doing well.

“[She’s] making great strides,” he said.

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