Lawrence prosecutor backs police carrying, giving naloxone
Despite some complaints from the community, Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson supports law enforcement officers using nasal naloxone on individuals who have overdosed on drugs.
While Lawrence County Emergency Medical Services personnel also use the medicine, known by the brand name Narcan, in overdose cases, sometimes law enforcement personnel arrive at the scene of an overdose before ambulance crews do, Anderson said.
The use of the nasal spray has been somewhat controversial among some county residents, Anderson said.
Earl "Buddy" Fry, director of the county's ambulance district, said he has heard similar complaints about using the medicine in an effort to revive heroin overdoses.
"We use it four or five times a week," Fry said. "Our ambulance crews have carried it for 15 or 20 years. The only difference is we use it with a needle in IVs."
King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland provided naloxone to law enforcement personnel in Lawrence County last April at Anderson's request.
The Ashland hospital had 435 drug overdose cases involving Lawrence County residents in 2014, Anderson said.
"We've had eight fatal drug overdose cases so far this year," he said.
"Critics say that if an individual wants to abuse drugs, then why are we spending money and effort to save them," Anderson said. "As humans, we make poor choices at times; however, we must start viewing drug addiction for what it really is: a disease.
"It is a disease that has affected every family either directly or indirectly in Lawrence County."
Naloxone has no potential for abuse and is harmless if given to a person not experiencing an opioid overdose, according to a news release from King's Daughters. Its sole purpose is to prevent an opioid overdose death.
Anderson has seen opiate addiction reach people in the community that were previously untouched by drugs, and the crime and heartbreak that accompanies it.
"I believe that our community must utilize each and every resource available to best serve our families and future in combating the opiate addiction," Anderson said.
Ironton Police Capt. Chris Bowman, a member of the drug task force, responded to a call Oct. 26 about a 40-year-old man who was unconscious and barely breathing due to a drug overdose.
With the assistance of the Ironton Fire Department, Bowman used naloxone on the man, who regained consciousness and was transported to a medical treatment center for further treatment, Anderson said.
"Some communities don't use it," Anderson said. "I hope these people get treatment and change their lives. Some of them have been given a second chance."