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'He would have died'

Zoe Greszler • May 29, 2019 at 1:00 PM

It’s no exaggeration that Huron County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Young saved his fellow officer’s life May 18. 

A deputy, whom the department is keeping anonymous as the investigation is pending, was exposed to a narcotic while making a traffic stop at Ohio 99 and Spring Street in Willard. The incident occurred just after midnight and the exposure led to an overdose, which Young recognized.

Young’s subsequent actions allowed the deputy to be transported to the hospital and then released to go home several hours later, rather than being released to a morgue.

“He (the deputy exposed to the drug) would have died if (Young) hadn’t acted,” Chief Deputy Dave Ditz said. “You don’t understand how proud we are of him. ... I can’t be more proud of him and the sheriff can’t be prouder. He’s a very humble guy, but we told him, ‘You deserve to be recognized.’”

Young was presented with an award for his life-saving action, which the department proudly displayed on its Facebook page.

“Congratulations to Deputy Josh Young who was presented with a Life Saving Award for actions taken over the weekend that directly resulted in saving a human life,” the post read. “Thank you for your service, Deputy Young. Keep up the great work.”

Ditz said Young’s attention to detail and his fellow deputy is what saved the day.

The unnamed deputy “was wearing proper protective equipment” while conducting a search of the vehicle that a police dog indicated possessed illegal narcotics. It’s believed during that search his bare skin came in contact with a small amount of a yet-unknown narcotic that is suspected to have been on the driver’s seat. The deputy got a headache and headed back to the cruiser. 

“Josh noticed he exhibited rapid breathing and was extremely disoriented,” Ditz said. “He went back to (the) cruiser expecting opioid exposure, got and administered the Narcan right away.

“Initially he recognized there was a problem and most likely it was exposure to an opioid. And he didn’t wait; he took action that saved (the other deputy’s) life. And if he was wrong, if Narcan is administered and it’s not an opioid, it’s not going to hurt you; it can only help you. By administering Narcan and administering this as soon as possible, he saved the deputy. And he’s doing well now. That’s the most important thing — we care very much about the safety and well-being of our deputies.”

The incident was a sobering one for the department. It’s a daily life-threatening risk that every first responder faces today, but Ditz said this was the first time the sheriff’s office has had one of its own exposed to a drug, resulting in an accidental contact overdose. 

“It’s extremely scary,” he said. “It’s always been a fear of ours. You know, you hear and read about it happening in other departments and states, but it actually occurred here now. It’s affected us and our other officers and it’s affected even the surrounding (agencies). It’s a scary thing.”

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