How to save a life

Sarah Stafford poses in her South Florida residence

EDITOR’S NOTE: For the past year and a half, my 24-year-old daughter, Sarah, has worked as a “tech” at drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation centers in South Florida. She is trained in CPR because of the potential for relapse and overdose of recovering addicts. Sarah is a recovering addict herself, and lives in a nearby home occupied by other recovering addicts with house rules that support their road to recovery. It’s not always easy, though. Temptation sometimes leads addicts to relapse with potential deadly consequences. This is Sarah’s story about a recent incident in her home.

By Sarah Stafford
Around 1:40 pm on Wednesday, January 11th, my housemate came home and went into her bedroom. About two minutes later she comes out and says, ‘Sarah can you come check on my roommate, I think she’s asleep but I also think I heard the death rattle, so can you wake her up and make sure she’s OK?’

I said ‘of course,’ and got up and went in there. The light was off cause we thought she was initially asleep. I shake her leg and say her name and she doesn’t respond. I shake her leg a little harder and say her name a lil louder, and she still wouldn’t respond. I get up and turn on the light and she’s pale but also blue around her eyes and lips. I notice a trickle of blood that’s come out of the corner of her mouth. I tell her roommate to call 911 and run into the living room and grab a thing of NARCAN. I wait a minute or two and am saying her name and lightly slapping her in the face to wake up. My housemate gets off the phone and is attempting to call our other housemate , whom the girl that OD’d is really good friends with. As I grab and administer another dose of NARCAN. the fire department calls us back asking if she has a pulse.

I check both her carotid and radial pulses, which were there but very faint. The fire department tells us we need to begin giving compressions. I look at my housemate, and she says she doesn’t know how, so I begin giving compressions consistently for about three minutes, and I’m getting exhausted.

The fire department tells me to do five. break two. which I begin doing, and as I start doing that my housemate I’m working on is starting to show signs of coming back. She’s gasping a bit and her eyes are starting to roll back. As the paramedics rush in 8-9 deep, I’m still working on her and she sits up gasping and choking but still isn’t really there. Three or four paramedics help her stand up and assist her outside to the gurney, where they give her a third dose of NARCAN in an IV. She goes to the ER and gets discharged that same evening. I was able to see her more alive and as OK as she can be after something like that as I help her pack her things and she returned to detox that night.

My comments: As scary of a situation it was, I’m grateful we had the best possible outcome for such a thing, and I’m grateful my housemate said something when she did or it could’ve been a completely different outcome. NARCAN saves lives, and I truly got to see that. While I hope to not have to do anything like that again I’m grateful I’ll know exactly what I need to do.

Editor’s note: Sarah, I’m so proud of you for jumping in and putting your life-saving skills to work and saving this young woman’s life. You are making a difference. Stay on this difficult road to recovery and continue to make a difference for the people you live with and serve.

A REAL ID adventure on the Mother Road

Sarah tag agency
My daughter Sarah celebrates after getting her REAL ID license at the Diamond Tag Agency in Chandler

We pulled into the gravel lot of the Luther Tag Agency this morning about 8:40. What luck, the first ones there.

Then I saw the paper sign attached to the door. Tag Agency closed the week of June 14-18.

I laughed out loud. My daughter didn’t see the humor.

Here’s how we got into this situation. Sarah needed to renew her driver’s license by the end of June. It needed to be a REAL ID license.

So, when I was in the Edmond Tag agency to renew a car tag last week, I asked about getting a driver’s license there. The helpful woman behind the COVID-proof plastic window told me I would need to make an appointment. The next available slots were something like two months out.

“But you can go to the Luther Tag Agency and just walk in,” she said.

Perfect. So, this morning we left the house about 8 am on a mission.

When we saw the Luther agency was closed for the week, I Googled the Wellston Tag Agency about 12 miles farther east on Route 66.

We headed down the Mother Road, Wellston bound. We got to the Wellston Tag Agency about 10 minutes before it opened, and were the second customers in line.

After the tag agent finished with Customer No. 1, he asked how he could help us. I said we wanted to get a REAL ID for my daughter sitting next to me.

“We don’t do driver’s licenses here, never have,” he said (with a straight face). “But you can just walk in at the Chandler agency, which is about 15 miles east on Route 66.”

Sarah OnCu
Sarah poses at Wellston OnCue as we head to Chandler.

I was laughing again as we walked out the door. My daughter was fuming, because I had us on a wild goose chase.

We headed east again on the Mother Road. We pulled into the lot of the Diamond Tag Agency about 15 minutes later. There were cars, and people going in and out.

Luck was with us this time. After a wait of only about 15 minutes, the agent called us to the counter.

Yes, he could do a REAL ID license. We turned over our folder of documents, and within about 10 minutes Sarah became the first person in our family with a REAL ID.

We thanked the tag agent, headed out the door and pointed the car back to OKC.

This time, we bypassed the Mother Road and took the Turner Turnpike back to town.

Even if the tag agency gods forced us to drive the Mother Road three towns over, we still got our kicks (and REAL ID) on Route 66.