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Lovin Life After 50 - For many first responders, the struggle with opioid addiction is personal

August 5th, 2018 12:00am

Lovin Life After 50 - For many first responders, the struggle with opioid addiction is personal

By Niki D’Andrea

Almost every day, Ernesto Altamirano saw someone overdose on opioids.

"And when I say overdose, I mean borderline dead. Maybe even sometimes clinically," he says. "I’ve been on plenty of calls in my career as a fireman where I’ve seen opioid and heroin overdoses, plenty of them."

A Phoenix firefighter and paramedic, Altamirano says there’s been a surge of calls over the past few years involving opioid overdoses. Between June 15 and December 28, 2017, the Arizona Health Services Department tracked more than 4,900 suspected overdoses and 716 suspected deaths. The problem’s reached such proportions that Arizona received a $3.1 million grant from the federal government to train more first responders in recognizing and responding to suspected opioid use and overdoses.

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