'Let them die': Conn. FF resigns after comment about naloxone

Glastonbury Fire Chief Michael Thurz said the firefighter's off-duty comment "blemished the organization"


Jesse Leavenworth
Hartford Courant

GLASTONBURY, Conn. — A Glastonbury firefighter’s recent comment about drug overdose victims tarnished the honor of the department and he has resigned, Fire Chief Michael Thurz said Wednesday.

“This past Sunday, and while on his personal time, a former member of the Fire Department made an inappropriate and insensitive comment that violates the core opinions, values, and dignity of the organization,” Thurz wrote in a message to the community about volunteer firefighter James Stanley.

In a heated exchange with BLM860 leader Ivelisse Correa, Stanley suggested banning a lifesaving drug used to revive opioid overdose victims, video of the encounter shows.

The confrontation happened Sunday during the Hartford-based organization’s food drive in Glastonbury Center. Video shot by Correa shows she and Stanley and others arguing about a number of race-related issues.

Correa then asks Stanley, who is holding an American flag, why Glastonbury residents are not dealing with the epidemic in their own backyard, the continuing devastation caused by heroin and other opioids.

Stanley responds, “Why don’t you get rid of (expletive) Narcan and when people overdose, you let them die.”

Local firefighters do not administer naloxone, but Thurz said Stanley’s statement was nonetheless “inexcusable.”

“This individual’s actions have blemished the organization and the department wishes to express its sincerest apologies to the community for this unacceptable event,” he wrote.

“The mission of the Fire Department is to protect life and property within the Glastonbury community,” Thurz continued. “We accomplish this through our core values of commitment, respect, and integrity and we ask that our members uphold these principles and practice the highest level of professionalism and behavior at all times. The statement made this past Sunday failed this mission and the values our collective members regard so highly and the individual has since resigned.”

 

To our residents, and those that visit our community. This past Sunday, and while on his personal time, a former member...

Posted by Glastonbury Fire Department on Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Correa called Stanley’s resignation “damage control.” She said she is “aware most firefighters work hard 24/7 and do not share the same views,” but said the resignation “would’ve been more suitable as a first response instead of days later.”

Stanley had apologized, saying his comment “was insensitive and inappropriate.”

“I too have suffered loss to substance addiction and understand how hurtful my words were,” he wrote in a Facebook message “This comment in no way represents my character or conduct as a 20-year veteran of the fire service.”

The state saw a 13% increase in fatal drug overdoses in 2020, with most deaths occurring from April to July during the first round of the pandemic. There were 1,359 fatal overdoses in 2020, with 78 cases still under investigation, according to state Department of Public Health data. In 2019, there were 1,200 deaths.

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