Ecorse police save 24 lives in past year with Narcan; this officer saved 7 herself

Opioid epidemic hits small Downriver community

ECORSE, Mich. – The Ecorse Police Department is saving lives week after week -- 24 in the past year. 

Officer Celeste Graham was responsible for saving seven of those lives. The Local 4 Defenders spent an evening on patrol with Graham to get her perspective on the United States' opioid crisis. 

The community of Ecorse, Mich. has a population of less than 10,000. 

"It is a small-town feel. Everybody knows everybody," said Graham. 

It's 3.6 square miles situated along the Detroit River where fishing is a favorite past time. 

"We are a diverse community. I would say it's like 33 percent black, 33 percent white, 33 percent Hispanic," said Graham. 

Graham has been with the Ecorse Police Department for 13 years. She grew up in this town. 

"We have a lot of, I guess you would say, breaking and enterings," she said. 

Overdose victims left in streets

The big issue in the past two years that has been plaguing Ecorse is opioids. Graham said it has become much more prevalent. Sometimes she gets the call about a person who has overdosed and has been left on the street by friends who fear they would get in trouble. 

"They overdosed or they're down and they need some type of help," said Graham. 

Many times it's parents calling on their children, who are typically between 20 and 50 years old. 

"If it's a situation where it's an adult that lives with the parent, the parent really seems hopeless and, you know, can't get a grasp on how to handle the situation because their child whose an adult continues to make this decision. It's just so devastating to the family as a whole," said Graham. 

Narcan saves

She is always ready with Narcan, a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid overdose. 

"When you use Narcan, sometimes you gotta use more than one," she said. "We were on a call and we had three (Narcan packets) between ourselves. We went through those and when rescue got there, they went through three more themselves. Six ... to save someone," said Graham. 

She said she never knows when she'll get that type of call. On the summer night we went out with her on patrol it was quiet in Ecorse. We stopped at a local girl's lemonade stand. We tried to talk to neighbors about the city's opioid problem -- remember Ecorse police had to save 24 lives with Narcan in just the last year. But no one wanted to talk about it. For many it's just too personal. 

Graham said she hopes some kind of symposium could be held to teach people how to use Narcan so they would be prepared if their friend or family member was found overdosed. She wishes people would value their life get the help they need. 

Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority provides the training and Narcan kits free to anyone in Wayne County. The is a 24-hour Helpline and Access Center at 800-241-4949 for persons seeking assistance. 

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