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New overdose drug won't affect Phoenix FD's emergency treatment

PHOENIX -- Federal health regulators have approved a device that delivers a single dose of a medication that can reverse the effects of a drug overdose.

The pocket-sized device is called Evzio, and the drug it will deliver is naloxone. Supporters say it will save lives when people lose consciousness or stop breathing because of a drug overdose.

The Phoenix Fire Department doesn't use Evzio. Capt. Ruben Saavedra said they already have a better way of getting the medication into a patient's system.

"We can inject this medication straight into their veins," he said. "It goes right into their circulatory system and it works a lot faster."

Saavedra said that his department has several ways to administer the drug.

"We can draw it up into a needle and give them a shot in their arm, which is considered neuromuscular," he said. "Or we can give to them in an IV and it will go straight into their vein."

They can also spray it into a victim's nose.

Saavedra fears that once the Evzio device is available to the public, it will be used by people with a "legal issue" who fear that they'll wind up in jail if the fire or police departments are called in to assist. That could lead to victims not getting the right treatment.

"Many times that one dose (delivered through the Evzio device) might not work," said Saavedra. "That's because many times, we have to give them multiple doses of that medication to come out of their overdose state."

Evzio is expected to be available this summer.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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