As if saving lives as a firefighter wasn’t enough, Luis Garcia, a retired firefighter, has been raising money and distributing Narcan for free across the state of Florida in order to educate the public about the life-saving qualities of the drug. After retiring from Boynton Beach Fire Rescue in 2011, Garcia took up a job listening to police scanners for smoke, fire, and mold calls, but instead of hearing about smoke or fire, he overheard a countless number of overdoses being reported in Boynton Beach. Garcia would purchase Narcan, the brand name for the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, at local drug stores for $50 a dose and respond to nearby overdose reports. So far, he’s saved 11 people from overdosing, and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Since 2011, Garcia’s mission has become to save as many lives as possible through offering free classes and Narcan in communities most affected by the opioid crisis. Over the past year he has traveled to over 60 cities in Florida, teaching two-hour courses on the proper response to an overdose and handing out free Narcan to good Samaritans willing to use the drug in a time of need. Garcia makes a point of emphasizing that Narcan must be administered within eight minutes of overdose, and that Narcan won’t have any negative effects on medical conditions that might mimic the symptoms of an overdose.
Prior to embarking on this journey, Garcia had applied for state grant money but was denied. Instead of giving up, however, he took the $40,000 he had saved to purchase his dream SUV and bought more than 13,000 doses of Narcan for distribution. Since then, more than 97 people have successfully used the Narcan they received from Garcia to revive an overdose victim and save a life. Although Garcia knows that his efforts won’t solve the epidemic that is addiction, he still challenges people to act, asking, “If we could wipe out the deaths from addiction, shouldn’t we?”