Drug overdose kits result of lifesaving cooperation

Johnson Memorial Health has teamed up with local police departments to put the narcotics overdose intervention drug naloxone in the hands of police officers. Since police often are the first to arrive when emergency crews are called, the drug allows officers to stop an overdose almost instantly while waiting for paramedics to arrive and provide more extensive care.

This partnership already has proved to be a lifesaving effort. Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chuck Murphy had just completed training on how to use the drug the night before when he used it on an unconscious woman. She quickly regained consciousness. Although she was a little confused, she was breathing and was able to tell the officer she felt fine while they waited for an ambulance to arrive minutes later.

State laws have recently changed to allow police officers and other first responders to carry and use naloxone. The intervention drug, which has been used by medics for decades, is able to quickly stop the negative effects of narcotics, which include slowing down a person’s breathing, heart and nervous system.

The drug was mainly being investigated as one way to fight against the rising number of heroin cases police are coming across in the area, but also works if people are abusing or accidentally overdose on other opiates such as prescription painkillers.

Local police became interested in carrying naloxone after finding out it can be given in a nasal spray instead of by injection with a syringe. Johnson Memorial Health agreed to sponsor the program, by providing kits including a dose of the drug, the nasal spray attachment, rubber gloves and a carrying case to the more than 200 officers in the county. The hospital also will resupply any officer after he or she administers a dose.

The overdose kit program is a great partnership that likely will save more lives. Both law enforcement agencies and the hospital are to be commended.

At issue

Police officers often arrive at emergency scenes ahead of medical personnel.

Our point

A partnership between Johnson Memorial Hospital and local police departments, officers now carry overdose intervention medicine.