MELBOURNE, Fla. — After a 28-year career, a retired Florida firefighter and paramedic is investing his time and money to trying to save lives amid the opioid epidemic.

  • Luis Garcia spent $40,000 of his own money to buy 800 Narcan doses
  • He says he has seen the drug reverse an opioid overdose
  • Doctor whose son died of opioid overdose: Death affects entire family

Luis Garcia travels the state conducting training in Narcan, a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. He says of the 12 times he's had to administer it, 11 survived.

"When I saw that, it impacted me heavily. I said, 'Wow this is life-saving,'" he explained.

So, instead of using his savings to buy a new car, he spent $40,000 of his own money to buy 800 Narcan doses. 

Now, he gives them away and trains people to use the life-saving spray. 

"You will save their life, and for $50, every human life is worth saving," Garcia said.

A free class on Thursday at Daily Bread in Melbourne was hosted by Dr. Vicki Barlow. Her son died from an opioid overdose almost three years ago, and she sees how it affects the children he left behind.

"The children suffer," Barlow said. "Last time they came to visit, they came home; the 3-year-old said she wanted to die so she could be with her Daddy. The 5-year-old is crying because he wanted his Daddy back. These overdose deaths affect the entire family."

Jeffrey Njus is the executive director at Daily Bread, and he explained why the meeting is so important.

"Sadly, in our current circumstance with the opioid crisis, this is a need that we need to be prepared to meet," Njus said.

Garcia has hosted dozens of training sessions and will keep offering the free classes until he has given out his final dose. 

"Addiction does not discriminate. Alcohol abuse and substance abuse disorder can and do impact anyone. You never know if the person next to you or the person you love has a secret disease," Garcia said.

You can find when classes are scheduled at the SOUTH Florida Opioid Crisis Mortality Reduction Project.   

Friday is International Overdose Awareness Day. Barlow is hosting a remembrance event to honor her son and others lost to addiction. Everyone is invited to attend and share memories. It is at Friendship Fellowship at Pineda in Rockledge at 7 p.m. Friday.