PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CBS12) — A group of protestors hope to persuade Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to arm his deputies with Narcan, a drug that has saved the lives of countless overdosing addicts.
A demonstration will be held outside the DiVosta Towers along Kyoto Gardens Drive in Palm Beach Gardens on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m.
Protestors plan to carry banners displaying the names of people who have died to drug overdoses and a candlelight vigil will be held to remember the lost, those still struggling and those in recovery.
“The greatest responsibility is to protect and preserve human life. We want the Sheriff to do that by ordering and directing his officers to please carry Naloxone,” said event organizer and founder of Southeast Florida Recovery Advocates Maureen Kielian.
Kielian's son was saved thanks to Naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, known commonly under the brand name Narcan.
“I go to Martin County opioid meetings and Broward County opioid meetings, both of those sheriff’s offices, EMS and first responders cannot believe that this is happening in Palm Beach County,” Kielian said.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office tell CBS12 News their decision to not carry Narcan comes after the agency conducted a study that found 99 percent of the time Palm Beach County Fire Rescue get to the scene of a call before deputies.
We requested a copy of that study.
A spokesperson for the agency adds, “we are convinced that Fire Rescue administering Naloxone rather than deputies is more assuring that the individual in need does not suffer an adverse reaction, which Fire Rescue is trained to observe and immediately respond to. “
“When I first found out they weren’t carrying this, I was quite surprised and angry,” said Staci Katz, co-founder of Our2Sons.
Katz, a former NYPD officer, is also organizing Thursday’s protest.
“I would not want to go home as a police officer knowing that I could have stopped someone from overdosing,” Katz said. “There is no harm to anybody to do this.”
Nearly one million Americans have died from drug overdoses in the last two decades, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 70 percent of them involved opioids.
In 2020, more than 6,000 Floridians died from opioid overdoses, according the state medical examiner’s office.
More than half of those deaths were due to drugs laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that's 100 times stronger than morphine.
“We are losing more people to overdoses,” Kielian said. “The problems we have, the epicenter that it is previously in the pill mills and now with the patient brokering and the number of recovery residences, it’s an elevated risk in Palm Beach County.”
For more information, contact Maureen Kielian at 954-629-5264 or Staci Katz at 561-523-1038.