Another heroin overdose hits the Gila Valley

The Facing Addiction Safford Pilot Program has chosen team captains and will hold a candlelight vigil meeting Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Graham County Courthouse.

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – A woman who suffered an apparent heroin overdose was treated locally and then sent to a Tucson hospital for additional care. 

Graham County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the 600 block of W. Concho Street at about 2:04 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12, regarding a woman who had overdosed on heroin and was not breathing. The reporting party said the the woman way lying by a vehicle and was turning blue as her boyfriend frantically attempted to revive her with cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Janette Compton

Upon arrival, a deputy noticed a red car parked on the northern side of Concho Street, east of Branding Iron Road. He could see a man, identified as the victim’s boyfriend, Michael McClellan, giving chest compressions to Janette Compton, 33. The officer then relieved McClellan and took over the chest compressions.

A short while later, paramedics from Lifeline Ambulance arrived at the scene and transported Compton to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center.

McClellan allegedly told the officer that they were at their shared residence on E. Homer way when Compton injected some heroin and complications soon arose. McClellan said the pair both normally inject the drug, and Compton only had as much heroin as she usually takes, but this time she complained about feeling her tongue swelling.

After the use of an Epinephrine Auto-Injector (EpiPen) did not quell the situation, McClellan said they got into their car and he began to drive her to the Emergency Room.

During the trip, however, Compton lost consciousness and stopped breathing. At that point, McClellan pulled the car over and began CPR. A couple of motorists stopped to assist and called 911.

After the deputy finished his interview, McClellan drove to the hospital.

According to Ryan Rapier, MGRMC Director of Public Relations, Compton was treated at MGRMC and then transported to Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Tucson on Feb. 14 for further treatment. St. Joseph’s is a private, for-profit, 449-bed acute-care hospital on the east side of Tucson. 

Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition Program Director Kathy Grimes recently spoke about the nasal spray version of the opioid antidote, Narcan (Nalaxone Hydrochloride) that will soon be available in the Gila Valley. Currently, first responders have access to the injectable form of Narcan and will soon have the spray as well. A Safford officer is receiving training on how to use the spray, and he will train the other officers. Safford Police Chief Joe Brugman said the spray version of Narcan will soon be in each officers’ patrol vehicle.

With the nasal Narcan, one simply puts the applicator in the victim’s nose and pushes in the plunger. The anti-opiate drug is then released as a fine spray and, reportedly, awakes otherwise comatose people out of the opioid slumber and saves lives.

Narcan nasal spray is a prescription medication that will cost roughly $50 to purchase and should soon be available in the Gila Valley.