A public overdose in South Jersey shows the raw reality of the heroin epidemic and the power of an antidote that's saving lives, even as people fail to take advantage of programs geared toward kicking the habit.
"It's a problem in every neighborhood... from Winslow to Camden, from Haddonfield to Cherry Hill," said Camden County Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli.
Cellphone video shows a woman unconscious and in the depths of a heroin overdose — dying on the side of Crowne Point Road in West Deptford. Her face is blurred to protect her identity.
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Bystanders rush to save her, with one woman performing chest compressions.
"Her lips are blue," a person can be heard saying in the video.
A woman says, "She needs Narcan."
Officers from the West Deptford police station — just down the street — flocked to the scene and administered a dose of Narcan, a nasal spray used as an emergency treatment during an opioid overdose.
"It's not the strength of what the doctors have or anything like that, but it's strong enough to reverse all the symptoms and bring you right back from death," said Chief Samuel DiSimone.
That's what happened in this case. The woman still had to be taken to the hospital, but she survived.
Cappelli co-chairs the Opiate and Heroin Addiction Awareness Task Force in Camden County. This year, the county initiated "Operation Sal," which provides intense counseling to patients who are given Narcan.
So far, no one has joined the program.
"Even after you're clinically dead — brought back to life by Narcan — folks aren't convinced that they should go get help," said Cappelli.
Last year alone, Narcan saved 450 people in just Camden County. It's the antidote for heroin overdoses but not the solution to the growing problem.
"The video is reality," said Cappelli. "That's what's out on the streets of all of our municipalities."
The woman who overdosed declined NBC10’s request for an on-camera interview. She said she is fine and her biggest concern was for her young daughter, who has seen the video and has read the comments.
Stay tuned: A Generation Addicted, an NBC10 digital exclusive report exploring the tragic world of heroin and opiate addiction in the Philadelphia area and beyond, is coming March 21.