Federal Officers Criticized for Inaction During Opioid Overdose Incident in San Francisco
San Francisco, CA – An incident involving an opioid overdose in San Francisco has raised questions about the actions of federal officers at the scene. On September 19, two civilians rushed to administer chest compressions and Narcan, a medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose, to a man in distress. Paramedics arrived shortly afterward and transported the man to an ambulance.
However, what caught the attention of onlookers was the lack of action from five officers with the Federal Protective Service who were standing just feet away from the scene. Michael Walker, one of the civilians who administered Narcan, expressed his frustration, stating, “(They did) nothing. If I didn’t run over there, that boy would have died.”
The incident, witnessed and recorded by Time.news journalists, has sparked questions about why the federal officers, deployed to an area known for its drug problems, did not perform basic lifesaving measures. When questioned about their inaction, one of the officers stated that they weren’t allowed to intervene and did not carry Narcan. However, they did assist emergency responders in securing the victim to a stretcher and called for an ambulance.
In response to the incident, a spokesperson for the Federal Protective Service stated that they are in the process of equipping their inspectors with Narcan and training them in its administration. The spokesperson also mentioned that federal inspectors are trained in CPR and first aid but arrived at the scene after civilians had already begun administering CPR and Narcan.
The incident highlights the ongoing opioid epidemic in San Francisco, with emergency medical crews responding to at least 146 suspected overdoses in the block surrounding the Federal Building between January and July of this year. While employees of local public safety agencies have been provided with Narcan kits, the presence of Narcan among federal officers remains uncertain.
The boosted deployment of federal officers at the Federal Building in recent weeks is reportedly a response to Department of Health and Human Services officials advising their employees to work from home due to safety concerns. However, District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey has questioned why the federal officers didn’t at least perform CPR, even if they didn’t have Narcan.
Dorsey has reached out to the director of the city’s Office of Overdose Prevention to ensure coordination between city and federal authorities for Narcan supplies or training.
Although federal authorities have been criticized for their initial lack of action, Dorsey commended their increased efforts to police the troubled areas. He acknowledged the collaboration between multiple agencies and levels of government and expressed gratitude for their commitment to addressing the issue.
The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of immediate and effective response to opioid overdoses and raises the question of whether federal officers should be equipped with lifesaving measures like Narcan in areas heavily affected by drug problems.
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