WASHINGTON — In the last four days, 10 people died after 17 medical emergencies connected to suspected drug overdoes in D.C. alone. Mayor Muriel Bowser even put out a video encouraging people to carry the drug Naloxone -- commonly called NARCAN-- in the event they see someone overdosing.
But there are often concerns about helping someone when they’re having a medical emergency, and what ramifications a stranger providing treatment could face.
So we're verifying whether an individual can be held responsible in the event that something goes wrong, while assisting a person who has overdosed.
Our sources for this story are the DC Council for the District of Columbia, the Maryland Health Department and the Code of Virginia. In all three jurisdictions, what's known as the "Good Samaritan Law" offers legal protection.
Under the law in all three jurisdictions, if someone does have an adverse reaction to Naloxone, the person helping them would not be liable in civil damages for any act or omission, not constituting gross negligence, in the course of rendering such care or assistance.
In Maryland, The Good Samaritan Law does not apply to drug felonies and it does not prevent law enforcement from conducting an investigation and gathering evidence.
In D.C., individuals can text LiveLongDC to 888-811 to find free Naloxone without a prescription or ID, and it can be delivered. D.C.'s director of Behavioral Health put out a video on how you can tell if someone may be experiencing an overdose.
"You may see that they have pinpoint pupils, their skin may be clammy, and they may be unresponsive," Dr. Bazron warned.
Bazron also said the person should start responding within a few minutes of Naloxone being in their system.
"Lay them on their side and watch them closely, if they don’t respond within a couple of minutes you may give administer a second dose," she said.
Bazron added that Naloxone could save a life and won’t kill a person in the event they’re overdosing.