DAVENPORT, Iowa — Some eastern Iowa law enforcement agencies are considering whether to provide their officers with a drug that reverses the effects of opioids, potentially saving the lives of addicts who have overdosed.
Police have to take into account how many overdose calls they go to each year and training for officers, as well as cost and storage of the drug, according to the Quad-City Times (http://bit.ly/2evF6JB ). In April, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill that made it legal for first responders, family members and friends to carry the drug naloxone.
Bettendorf Police Chief Phil Redington said his city’s fire department and emergency medical services already use the drug to prevent fatal overdoses. But he said police don’t usually go to emergency medical calls unless they know the call involves an overdose.
“If we know that the call was an overdose, we’d go because of the fact there’s drug use, possibly illicit drug use,” he said.
In the case of an emergency medical call, paramedics usually arrive first and decide whether to administer the drug.
Redington said his officers won’t carry naloxone just yet because it’s best to let paramedics handle the overdose calls.
“Naloxone has to be handled properly,” Redington said. “And then there is the issue of training. Of course, you don’t base decisions about a life-saving drug based on money, but the fact is it does cost.”
Redington said he likes that families can get naloxone and administer it to their loved ones in the event of an opioid overdose.
“But there needs to be some type of connection, that if an overdose happens, then the addict must get some help,” he said.
Davenport Police Maj. Jeff Bladel said the department’s administration continues to examine the possibility of having officers carry naloxone.
Scott County Sheriff Dennis Conard has said he will take advice on the issue from the county health department. But his deputies do not go to each and every medical call in the county, he said.
Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com