SHOW LOW — Two local police officers now have the knowledge to use a medication that could save many lives plagued by opioid abuse.
Both the Show Low and Winslow police departments received training a couple of weeks ago in the use of Naloxone (also known as Narcan) from the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Apprehension Team and the Phoenix-based nonprofit Sonoran Prevention Works.
The SLPD and WPD were also supplied with Naloxone.
The training included how to recognize signs of an opioid overdose, responding to it and administering naloxone.
Show Low Police Commander Jeff McNeil said two officers were trained to use Naloxone, adding that none of the officers in the department carry it yet as a normal part of their gear.
But McNeil said once every officer at SLPD is trained, they will carry it all the time.
It is impossible to give a victim too much naloxone as its main function is to reverse the effects of the overdose.
During an opioid overdose, McNeil said it is not uncommon for the user to stop breathing, depending on how much of the opioid has ben ingested. Naloxone can get an overdose victim breathing again after they have stopped. The person may still be sedated from other drugs, but Naloxone will not get the person “high.” It is typically given as a muscle injection.
Sonoran Prevention Works Executive Director Haley Coles said Arizona is in the midst of an opioid crisis.
“In 2016, 1,497 people died of an overdose, the highest number the state has ever recorded,” she said in a press release. “The majority of these deaths are related to opioids, and specifically to prescription opioid painkillers.”
But, she said, prescription opioid abuse is just one part of the crisis. She said heroin is also on the rise.
Local law enforcement has, in the past few years, said heroin has been making a comeback because it is easy to make and cheap for addicts.
Coles said NCSO has been partnering with them to save lives affected by opioid abuse since last month. But in June, they used Naloxone supplied by SPW for the first time to save the life of an overdose victim.
Coles said NCSO deputies are now carrying Naloxone all the time, as well as distributing Naloxone kits to at-risk local residents and their friends in an effort to save as many lives as possible.
“The Winslow Police Department and Navajo County Sheriff’s Office are ensuring that any resident who wants a naloxone kit can pick one up free of charge, and without any questions. A naloxone kit can be picked up at any of the six NCSO substations and the Winslow Police Department, located at 708 W. 3rd St.,” Coles said. “Any person who takes prescription or street opioids, or any person who may come into contact with an individual who takes opioids, should carry naloxone. It is a non-addictive, simple-to-use medication that only works to reverse an overdose. An individual who is administered naloxone when not in an opioid overdose will not feel any effects of the medication.”
NCSO Chief Deputy Jim Molesa said deputies now carry Naloxone with them while on patrol and responding to calls.