Gov. McMaster recognizes CCFR for its efforts in fighting opioid overdoses


CLARENDON COUNTY  — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster recently recognized Clarendon County Fire Rescue for its efforts in saving lives by administering the overdose-reversal drug naloxone in emergency situations.
“It is with great pleasure that I recognize those firefighters under your command who have saved the lives of individuals in need by administering naloxone to reverse the life-threatening effects of a known or suspected opioid overdose,” McMaster said in his letter to Clarendon County Fire Rescue.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in drug-related overdoses over the years,” said Clarendon County Fire Rescue Chief Michael Johnson. “While Emergency Medical Services in Clarendon have carried Naloxone since the early 1990s, it has recently been added as a first-responder tool in saving lives. I’ve seen this medication work firsthand since being trained on it in 2019. While it is a sad situation to see people in these situations, it’s great to see our responders intervene and save lives.”
Clarendon County Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief and Medical Director Dr. Robert Ridgeway said that CCFR led the state in training its first responders on how to administer nasal Narcan and that it was the first responders in the CCFR to first coin the acronym ROLL for the program.
“I am proud of Clarendon County Fire Rescue, in July 2019, for becoming the first fire-based first responder service in the state to undergo the training to administer nasal Narcan,” Ridgeway said. “At that time, only law enforcement officers were being trained, and the program name ROLL was coined by Clarendon County Fire Rescue members during that training session to apply to all fire responders.”
Ridgeway said that before the CCFR named the program ROLL that it was “known initially as ‘LEON,’ which referred to law enforcement.
“Since that time, Clarendon County Fire Rescue has administered more than 37 doses of nasal Narcan in cases of suspected overdose,” Ridgeway added. “Not only has your Fire Rescue Service been progressive and taken a leadership role in combating opioid overdoses, but your Community Paramedic Program also attempts to track when Narcan was administered. In cooperation with the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office Victims Advocate Unit, as a team, they perform follow-up visits to offer evaluations, referrals and assistance for treatment for opioid dependence.”
According to McMaster, the opioid epidemic is a confirmed public health emergency in South Carolina with overdose rates continuing to rise significantly each year. In 2020, there were more than 1,700 confirmed drug overdose deaths, more than 80 percent of those deaths involved opioids, and the numbers continue to climb.
“I am exceedingly proud of the work that has been accomplished by the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services and the Department of Health and Environmental Control through the Reducing Opioid Loss of Life (ROLL) program,” McMaster said.
As of 2022, training has occurred statewide for 3,625 firefighters and more than 1,400 overdoses have been reversed by first responders who were trained through the ROLL program.