Thanks to a $400 seed grant, local law enforcement now has the tools necessary to help save victims of overdoses on opiate-based drugs.
The grant's funding, accepted by the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency on Aug. 8 from the Stark County SOLACE (Surviving Our Loss and Continuing Everyday) group, allowed it to become certified in carrying and administering nasal Naloxone, or Narcan. The funding also allowed Medway to purchase several two-dose Narcan kits to use during field operations and search warrants.
Medway is the first certified agency in Wayne County to use Narcan.
The nasal Naloxone program was started as a pilot project in Lorain County in 2013 and has spread to several other counties across Ohio as the state continues to combat a rise in heroin and prescription drug abuse.
Narcan is a medication that can reverse an overdose to an opiate-based drug, and that is the only function. In the pilot program in Lorain County, Narcan was used within two days of acquiring it to save an overdose victim. Since its inception, Lorain County officers have saved more than 40 lives to date.
Don Hall, director of Medway, and Patricia Bintliff, pharmaceutical diversion investigator, explained how the kits work.
Hall said a double-dose kit, such as the ones Medway purchased, cost roughly $50 apiece. Therefore, not all agents can have a kit in their vehicles at all times. Instead, there are enough for agents to sign out for their shifts, and then return at the end of the day.
He noted the kits are sensitive to extreme heat and cold temperatures, so it's best to not leave them in vehicles.
The kits themselves, Bintliff demonstrated, contain syringes with attachments to allow the Narcan dose to be inserted into a person's nose should they come across someone who is suffering from an overdose. The Narcan can reverse the effects within minutes.
And if a patient is suffering from any other issues, the Narcan dose would have no adverse affects on them, as Hall explained it's completely safe.
With the kits now on hand, the next task is for Medway to teach and certify other law enforcement agencies in Wayne County.
"It just gives us as law enforcement the ability to potentially save someone's life," Hall said, especially as he noted often times law enforcement officers are at drug scenes before other emergency responders. Although he acknowledged "we are not trying to replace EMS and fire," but just have the ability to help overdose victims quickly.