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Should Deputies Carry Narcan?

If ever there was a wonder drug, Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, is surely it. Administering the drug to someone who has overdosed on narcotics immediately counteracts the effects, often saving a life and always producing stone-cold sobriety. All opiates are neutralized by Narcan, but it finds use primarily in heroin overdoses, where users can inadvertently inject too much of the drug, either because they don’t know the purity of what they’ve purchased or because they simply want a better high.

Now, the Jefferson County Board of Legislators is discussing giving a newer dosage form of the drug to Sheriff’s Deputies to use while on patrol.

Until recently, Narcan was only available as an injectable drug, meaning that some skill and medical training was required for safe administration. However, a new version sprays the medication into the nose. This nasal form means Deputies could use it safely, with no risk of transmitting infection.

Giving this product to Deputies would add availability for first responders, even though ambulances have the drug available. In a heroin overdose, minutes saved can mean a life saved, since an overdose can put an addict into a coma and stop their breathing. In 2012, according to reporting in the Watertown Daily Times EMS personnel responded to more than 300 overdose calls, not all of them from narcotics, but a significant portion were. Since Sheriff’s Deputies are usually first on the scene in rural counties and EMS services may take several to tens of minutes to arrive, a quick response seems warranted if safely done.

The effects of Narcan last only about 30 minutes, whereas the drug in someone’s system may stay around longer. That means EMS would still have to be called to transport the victim to a hospital for further treatment and monitoring.

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