Alone in the halo of a sodium halogen street light, a man lays lifeless. A makeshift tourniquet constricts. As paramedics, our response is, by now, muscle memory. While administering naloxone, I observe the patient’s face to determine if he is my brother, Ryan.

After 20 years answering the bell, I’ve lived my share of death. Each a lesson in what preserves life.

Tonight, in artificial sun, naloxone saves. As the victim’s face reanimates, the words of Gov. LePage echo. He insists this person is already dead.

“Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.” It is difficult to imagine a less benevolent or accurate statement. In one succinct sentence, LePage summarizes his administration’s failure to produce efficacious or compassionate leadership, a one-sentence epitaph to his abominable legacy.

A veto override offers no accountability for the death sentence Le-Page’s veto letter ordered. If improving access to naloxone saves a single life, then the governor’s recent attempt to prohibit extended access to naloxone feels more like malfeasance or attempted manslaughter.

Using the governor’s logic, administering the lifesaving drug epinephrine to a patient with an allergy to bee stings “merely extends” their life until the next bee sting.

Ryan lost the battle to opiate addiction, but naloxone gave him more time to fight. More time to search for space in a program. More time to outlast a governor who does not care if my brother lasts.

Is it a surprise Ryan found closed doors if the leader of Maine openly writes that some people are not worth saving? The addicted are saved every day by naloxone, and more by treatment, and treatment requires time. Addicts are not helped by leaders who label them unsavable.

After all, Ryan might be fighting today if naloxone were half as easy to find as heroin.

Gary Wagner

Portland