AMHERST, NY - We are taking a look at the opioid crisis through a different lens -- the perspective of paramedics and volunteer firefighters.
Jacob Polen has been a paramedic with Twin City Ambulance for a year and a half. And worked for AMR, formerly known as Rural Metro for several years before that.
REPORTER: has there been one incident whether it be at Rural Metro or with Twin City that you can think of that really opened your eyes?
He describes what happened after a motor vehicle accident, near Grant and Ferry Streets in Buffalo over a year ago -- an experience he'll never forget.
"Fire gets there and they pulled the woman out of the car already and she's blue around the lips she still had the needle, the band around her arm there and there's a car seat in the back and we couldn't find the kid there," he said.
He says narcan was used to revive the woman and that she said the child was with a relative.
"For those couple minutes there before she was able to come full alert it definitely was very nerve wrecking," he said.
Within the last year, Polen says he's responded to 12 overdoses -- three of them have been fatal.
REPORTER: What is it like going on these calls?
"It can be very stressful," Polen said, "you also have to look at the area that you're responding in the type of environment that call is happening in."
This was the call volunteer firefighters at Bellevue Fire in Cheektowaga received last year:
"Bellevue request for EMS for an unresponsive male, it's going to be an overdose."
Bellevue Fire officials say the call was for a male at a residence and that when they revived him, he started fighting with firefighters. The Bellevue fire chief Tony Filipski says this is why firefighters don't go into homes alone when responding to suspected overdoses.
"The hospitals I feel are under-staffed, Polen said. "Having those personalized addiction counselors on staff I feel in the ER would make a tremendous difference."