MEXICO — One day of seeing is better than 30 days of reading, Sen. Angus King said during his visit to Med-Care Ambulance in Mexico on Friday.

What he saw was a crew that faces health care challenges and provides drug overdose treatment in the 11 towns it serves.

King spoke with Rescue Chief Dean Milligan, Deputy Chief Paul Landry Jr. and Assistant Deputy Chief Berta Broomhall.

Landry presented data on overdose treatment. “In 2018 total, we had about 23 events where we used naloxone, six of those cases were deaths.

“(In) 2019 so far, we have only eight cases where we used the naloxone. I don’t think, however, that that’s an actual indicator of (drug overdoses because) now so many people have naloxone on their own, that oftentimes they’re even given it and we may not be called. Or they’ve been given it before we get there to make it possibly not look like an overdose.”

Naloxone is an opioid overdose antidote, also known as Narcan.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, left, speaks with Med-Care Ambulance Chief Dean Milligan, Deputy Chief Paul Landry Jr. and Assistant Deputy Chief Berta Broomhall at Med-Care Ambulance in Mexico on Friday afternoon. Rumford Falls Times photo by Marianne Hutchinson

King said drug overdose deaths in Maine are down slightly. “I think 2017 was the highest (and in 2018), was down from 420 to 390, I believe, but it’s still a horrible problem. It seems to be as bad or worse in rural or small towns.”

Broomhall said, “We bring them to the hospital and there is, like, no place for them to go (for treatment after the hospital visit). There are no treatment facilities in this area.”

Broomhall told King that two years ago Med-Care employees such as herself would follow up on patients released from the hospital to be sure they were taking care of themselves, but the grant for that service ended.

“It was probably less than two weeks after our program ended that the people that I saw on a regular basis, we transported five of them (to the hospital) because they just, everything kind of fell apart,” Broomhall said.

King and his representative Ben Tucker told Broomhall that they would set up a meeting to see what could be done to reinstate some type of follow-up services for patients released after their hospital treatments.

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