By: Erin Smith
Naloxone is used to combat overdoses due to opiates such as heroin and certain prescription medications. It has been used successfully by EMS personnel and hospitals for combating opiate-related overdoses for about 40 years and does not cause any adverse effects.
Chief Chris Hunt said Bladenboro police officers completed all of the required training for the use of Narcan (Naloxone) on May 3 and have been issued the Narcan Nasal Spray which is a 4 milligram dose.
“It is the newest Narcan application the state has at this time. The nasal spray is supposed to be the best Narcan application you can administer to the patient,” said Chief Hunt.
He said it works by inserting the spray nozzle on the bottle into the patient’s nostril and administering the spray then gently massaging the nose to help work the Narcan into the patient’s mucus membrane. Chief Hunt said this helps the patient to absorb the Naloxone more rapidly.
Chief Hunt said adding the use of Narcan to their policing efforts is a decision he did not take lightly, but it was one that he felt was necessary.
“If the officer should have a call where a subject is unconscious or having breathing difficulty due to an opiate overdose, they have the tool to save that person’s life. It increases their chances for survival, but it also decreases the amount of time lapsed in which those individuals can get help,” said Chief Hunt.
Narcan is not just for heroin overdoses. It can also be administered to anyone who has overdosed on prescription opiates as well.
Chief Hunt said when it comes to the elderly, the patients are dealing with a myriad of health issues and sometimes dementia sets in, and they get confused about how to take their medications, some of which are opiates. Chief Hunt said that it is comforting to know that if someone’s grandmother or grandfather should accidentally take too much medicine, the police officer who responds has the tools to save that life.
“They (the elderly) just forget and sometimes they simply mix up their medications,” said Chief Hunt.
He added that is where the Naloxone can make a difference. Chief Hunt said that in the case of an overdose, every minute counts when it comes to saving a life.
Chief Hunt said he learned about Narcan from an email he received from the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition. He said he did some research and reading about the program and what it has achieved before joining it.
According to the NC Harm Reduction Coalition website, since the inception of the Overdose Prevention Project in 2013, NCHRC has issued 26,000 overdose kits and have 2,906 confirmed rescues.
According to NCHRC’s website, in North Carolina there have been 26 reported reversals and Naloxone use by law enforcement became legal in April 2013.
Area law enforcement agencies who have begun using Naloxone include the Fayetteville Police Department and have 9 total rescues; the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Department and they have 5 rescues; Boiling Springs Lake Police Department and they have 3 rescues; Carolina Beach Police and they have one rescue; New Hanover County sheriff’s Department and they have five rescues; and the Wilmington Police Department and they have 5 rescues.
“As law enforcement officers we are supposed to protect lives and property. Having this program implemented adds to the protection of life,” said Chief Hunt. “If we can save one person’s life with Narcan and they seek help and overcome their addiction, then the whole program is worth it.”