Heroin overdoses on the rise
By John Faucher
Deaths from overdoses of narcotics more than tripled in the United States since 2000, and deaths from heroin have quadrupled in the past decade.
In response, village of Hortonville Police Officers will soon begin carrying Narcan, a life-saving drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.
Before a department can carry Narcan, officers must receive training from medical personnel, and have a medical advisor review and sign off on policy procedures for its use by the department.
Hortonville Police Chief Michael Sullivan reported to village board members Thursday, June 16, that the department’s medical advisor has reviewed and approved those policies and procedures.
“Gold Cross Ambulance will provide us with the necessary training and I will be checking with the first responders because I know they wanted to be part of it too,” said Sullivan.
“I’m hoping that by the end of July or early August we should be carrying Narcan in our squad cars,” said Sullivan.
In previous meetings, Sullivan had noted the increased opiate use police departments are seeing regionally. He said having Narcan available in the squad cars would help officers potentially save lives when assisting a subject in an overdose situation.
According to the national Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are medications that are prescribed to relive pain. Medications that fall within the opioid category include, hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (Kadian, Avinza), codeine and related drugs.
When someone is overdosing on any of the above drugs, breathing can slow down or stop, and they are very difficult to wake.
Narcan blocks the effects of the opioid by knocking it out of the opiate receptors in the brain. Narcan can give an overdose patient a little extra time in an emergency.
Paramedics and emergency room doctors have used Narcan to save lives for many years.
Sullivan said placing it in squad cars might give some patients a better chance of survival.
Administering Narcan quickly in an overdose situation also can help prevent brain injuries that may occur in overdose situations.
In 2015, Hortonville Police responded to 59 incidents involving drugs.
Sullivan also briefed the board on Act 268, which requires all law enforcement agencies to report controlled-substance violations to the state.
“It (Act 268) basically is trying to establish a tactical advantage and how to better address the issue of drugs, is what it comes down to,” said Sullivan. “Especially with the take off of heroin now, they’re trying to track more of what’s going on where, and who’s doing what, and which jurisdictions are seeing more of a rise than others.”