Nursing student administers Narcan, saves a life over the summer

nursing-student amanda martorelli

Martorelli administered Narcan, which reverses the effects of a heroin overdose, to a patient. Photo courtesy of Amanda Martorelli

The driver had snorted two bags of heroin on July 4 before getting into his car and heading for  home.

He did not make it. Instead, he drove over a highway median on Route 280. No one else was injured, but the driver was unresponsive when Amanda Martorelli found him.

While many of her peers were celebrating the holiday at the beach that day, Martorelli, a sophomore nursing major, was on duty for the East Hanover EMS (Emergency Medical Services). Her actions that day saved the driver’s life.

“When we got to the scene, I went right over to the man who was unconscious and unresponsive at the time,” Martorelli said in an email interview. “His pulse was read and he had very irregular, shallow respirations, so AED (Automated External Defibrillator) pads were placed on his chest by police who had arrived before us.”

Martorelli decided to use the drug Narcan, a drug that can cause controversy in the medical world, as it is commonly used to combat the effects of an overdose.

However, Martorelli said that Narcan’s benefits outweigh the negatives.

“The stories I’ve heard from [Narcan] reversing drug overdoses were incredible. It was only until I actually saw the effects of it that I was truly aware of its power,” Martorelli said of witnessing the drug revive the man.

Martorelli added, “Granted, there will be people that abuse the accessibility, but as a first responder I feel that it will be so beneficial having Narcan right at hand when we need to use it.”

The man involved in the accident regained consciousness in the ambulance on the ride to the Morristown Medical Center. The patient apologized and thanked Martorelli for saving his life after the incident was explained to him.

“When he was holding my hand, crying, the reality of what I just did really hit me and I was reminded of why I volunteer,” Martorelli said.

Martorelli added that nursing courses at Seton Hall helped prepare her as an emergency medical technician.

“Though we have not learned what to do for particular situations in depth yet, we are constantly reminded on how we should be treating our patients and how to deliver the most quality, safe, and patient-centered care,” Martorelli said about the College of Nursing.

Dr. Tin-Chun Chu, an associate professor in the department of biological sciences, said Martorelli took her Introduction to Microbiology course this past summer.

“Not only (has) Amanda learned very well in classes, she was able to apply what she’s learned and saved one’s life without hesitation. Her heroic action fulfills University mission: ‘Students are prepared to be leaders in their professional and community lives in a global society,’” Chu said in an email interview.

Megan O’Malley can be reached at

Author: Megan O'Malley

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