OAKHURST — Friday night just after 6 p.m., MCSO Deputy Michael Lewis was flagged down near the Oakhurst Central Valley Community Bank by a man who reported a woman was overdosing on heroin under a nearby bridge.
Deputy Lewis quickly made his way down a dirt path and found a 25-year-old woman under the bridge who was unresponsive.
Corporal Chris Williams (also a certified EMT) arrived on the scene and administered Narcan nasal spray to the woman while awaiting medical personnel.
The woman, who was revived by the Narcan and subsequently checked by Sierra Ambulance personnel, ultimately declined further medical treatment or transport.
The incident Friday night was not the deputies’ first run-in with a life-and-death situation. Corporal Williams and Deputy Vermeulan recently saved a man’s life in Oakhurst with their training and the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator).
Friday’s rescue effort is another example of services MCSO deputies provide Madera County citizens and visitors outside of typical law enforcement.
As part of a Madera County effort to increase public safety, the Sheriffs Office — represented by then-Commander Tyson Pogue — and the county’s public safety partners Madera County Fire, Madera County Dept. of Corrections, Madera County Probation, and Madera County District Attorney’s Office collaborated to develop “Board Priorities.”
At a County Management workshop in 2017, this group set 10 public safety goals to be completed within a year. Three of those goals dealt with medical training and equipment:
- Additional medical training for deputies
- Equip deputies with AEDs
- Issue Narcan to deputies
Through a cooperative effort with the board of supervisors and county partners, the group was able to complete all three medical goals.
Since that time, deputies have saved several lives with this training and equipment. MCSO now has approximately 10 percent of its deputies certified as EMT’s while every patrol car is equipped with an AED and deputies, patrol volunteers and trained reserves are issued Narcan.
By the end of this fiscal year, every MCSO vehicle (in addition to the originally equipped patrol vehicles) will be equipped with an AED.
Much of this training and equipment (including the Narcan) was funded through a grant from the State of California Health and Human Services Agency Department of Health Care Services.