SCMPD officers to carry drug to combat opioid overdose - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SCMPD officers to carry drug to combat opioid overdose

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Hundreds of Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police officers will now be carrying an extra life-saving tool on their belts.

It's called naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of opioid drug overdoses.

Officers are being trained to use the medical rescue device Tuesday and Wednesday at the department’s professional development center.
 
We first told you about this initiative last month in WTOC’s special report, ‘Opioid Overload.’ Now, starting this week, officers will begin carrying these rescue devices, which is crucial, because they are often the first people on-scene during a drug overdose.

"Because of the sheer number of police officers and our faster response times, we can intervene much quicker than EMS would be. So by having this drug at our disposal, in a situation where there is an overdose, now we're at the forefront of saving someone's life,” said Capt. Ben Herron, with SCMPD.


 And in the case of an opioid overdose, timing is everything. The faster a patient gets the medication, the less likely they are to suffer brain damage - and a few seconds can be the difference between life and death.
 
"There have just been too many times in our history where a law enforcement officer has arrived on the scene of an overdose and has been unable to revive that person because they did not have an opioid reversal drug on their person and they had to wait for EMS, and by then it was too late," said Lori Murphy with the Medical Association of Georgia Foundation.
 
The MAG Foundation paid for nearly $17,000 worth of naloxone kits for the police department.

Starting this week, 245 officers will begin carrying the medication, but the goal is ultimately to have every officer equipped with a rescue device. In the training sessions, officers learn how to identify an overdose, how to administer the naloxone and how to handle a revived patient before EMS arrives.

While this is a huge step for advocates, they hope to make naloxone even more widely available to the general public.
 
"Everybody that has a loved one or has a problem with opioid dependency should have rescue medicine, and it should be there because it can save a life,” said Dr. Ray Gaskin, a Savannah addiction medicine specialist. “It gives us a chance to get someone into definitive treatment."
 
The state of Georgia passed a medical amnesty law in 2014 that grants legal protection to anyone – law enforcement officer or not – who administers naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose. That means a bystander can use the drug on someone free of liability if it’s being administered in good faith to save their life.
 
The folks who are holding these training sessions also met with Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher on Tuesday. The sheriff has expressed interest in having similar access for his deputies, but no official plan has been established yet.

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