Helping a stranger overdosing in her driveway wasn’t how Lorain County Domestic Relations Court judge Sherry Glass expected to spend her evening March 13.
But her quick thinking and a dose of naloxone helped save the man’s life.
Around 5:15 p.m., a man began pounding on the front door of her Amherst Township home as she prepared soup for her six-year-old child. When Glass looked out the window, the unexpected visitor pleaded that his friend was dying and needed help.
“I had my hand on the knob but I locked it,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on there. I’ve been a prosecutor for many, many years and I thought it could be someone who didn’t like me. Then he started asking for a sheriff. I thought, ‘Does he not like my husband?’ My adrenaline was pumping and I was very nervous. He asked if he should call 911 and once I heard him talking to someone on the line, I felt comfortable enough to go outside.”
Glass is married to Deputy Mark Strohsack, who was not home during the incident but had his police cruiser parked in the driveway, which Glass suspects led the men to seek help there.
Strohsack, through the couple’s 16-year-old son, fed instructions to Glass over the phone on where to find his dose of naloxone (or Narcan), how to use it, and warnings that fentanyl can be deadly through just skin contact.
“Once I got the Narcan out of my husband’s cruiser, the man was gray and looked dead,” said Glass. “His pulse was minimal but still there. I looked at his friend, who was hysterical, and I wanted to tell him they should’ve come sooner. I put the Narcan up his nostril and just kept feeling for his pulse.”
Two more doses of Narcan were given to the man once emergency responders arrived, Glass said.
“His back kind of arched off the ground and he gasped one time,” she said.” The one deputy there said it was normal, but it startled me. After the third Narcan dose, he sat up. A deputy hunched over him and tried to tell him how close he has been to death.”
The judge said she’s seen mixed reactions to her story and others regarding the revival of overdose victims.
“There’s many different schools of thought,” she said. “Whenever there’s a good story, it brings out the individuals who say, ‘You should’ve just let them die,’ which is concerning, but it is what it is.”
“No matter where you stand on why this is all happening, when it comes knocking at your door, and you have the know-how and the tools to help, I can’t imagine anyone passing that up. I would hope no one would pass up the opportunity to save someone,” she said.
Before being elected in November, Glass worked as a county prosecutor for 18 years. The majority of that time was spent dealing with adult criminal felonies.
She said that experience gave her perspective on how quickly and drastically heroin’s grip has affected the area.
“As one of three supervisors, I handled the big cases, the drug cases, the fentanyl cases,” she said. “We saw it every day. There was definitely a huge switch. You see the trends. All of the sudden, heroin addicts began failing rehabilitation faster. Individuals coming in looked worse than at any time in the past.”
As a defense attorney, Glass watched heroin take its toll on children.
“Way back when, most cases dealt with dirty houses and simply not being able to put food on the table, she said. “Children Services can work with those families, educate them, and get them to a point where things were better. Now heroin many times is why the parents can’t provide the basic needs of the children. You can’t just educate them. They have to go through an entire treatment and part of that is relapse.”
“It’s just a very sad cycle. It’s eye-opening.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.