In Effort to Fight Overdoses, Staten Island Officers Will Soon Carry Heroin Antidote

April 18, 2014

More and more we are seeing first responders (other than paramedics) being equipped with and trained to use naloxone. In January it was reported that police in New Jersey would begin carrying naloxone in the form of a nasal spray, and yesterday it was announced that police and firefighters in the New York City borough of Staten Island will be doing the same. Putting naloxone in the hands of first responders such as police and firefighters is important, as often they are the first ones to arrive at the scene of a drug overdose.

In Effort to Fight Overdoses, Staten Island Officers Will Soon Carry Heroin Antidote
The New York Times - April 17, 2014

Police officers across Staten Island will soon be equipped with and trained to use a nasal spray that reverses the effects of a heroin or opioid pill overdose, the authorities said on Thursday.

The move, expanding a pilot program in the borough, is part of a broad national push to get the lifesaving medication, naloxone, into the hands of emergency workers amid what federal authorities have called an epidemic of opioid overdoses.

New York City paramedics, who have advanced training, have carried the drug for four decades. Now emergency medical technicians and firefighters, who, along with the police, are often the first to be dispatched to medical calls, will also carry the drug, the Fire Department said.

In recent years, the city has seen surges in the amount of heroin seized and in fatal overdoses from the drug. On Monday, the authorities seized 44 pounds of heroin, worth approximately $12 million, from two apartments in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan serving as stash houses. Deaths from heroin increased 84 percent between 2010 and 2012, and followed alarming rises in overdoses from prescription pain medications citywide in recent years.

The expansion of the pilot program into a regular part of police work on Staten Island underscored the scope of the crisis in the borough, which has seen the city's highest rates of fatal overdoses from both heroin and prescription opioid abuse. In the past few months, officers in one police precinct in northern Staten Island used naloxone to save three people in the throes of an overdose. (Because the medication only works on heroin-like drugs, a person overdosing from a non-opiate drug died despite receiving naloxone from officers.)

"The victim was snoring very loudly, what's called a death rattle," said Officer Daniel Keating, recalling his experience in February administering the drug with two other officers. After two doses, Officer Keating said, "he came to, and then the E.M.S. took over, and he survived."

At a news conference in the Richmond County district attorney's office, the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, thanked the officers for the example they provided to the borough's three other precincts. All Staten Island officers will be trained to use the drug by the end of next month, he said.

Continue reading at The New York Times...

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