BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — An Indiana sheriff decided to prioritize emergency workers over the public during a recent shortage of a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses and treat exposure to drugs.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office experienced a brief shortage of naloxone on July 11, leaving enough for only one kit per officer. Sheriff Brad Swain instructed his officers in an email to use the drug only on fellow officers or emergency public safety officials if they came into contact with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. There have been reports across the U.S. of officers coming into contact with fentanyl and ending up in life-threatening situations.
“I have to make the hard choice of protecting my officers and the public. We are at the point now where the safety of my officers is paramount to people who are self-destructive,” Swain said.
Monroe County Commissioner Amanda Barge said officials shouldn’t be making decisions to value one life over another.
“We must remember that addiction does not discriminate. It could be your neighbor, mother, teacher or firefighter,” she said.
Barge said she reached out to the sheriff’s office to ensure that they have “adequate naloxone, education and training.”
Swain dismissed the order later that day once the supply was replenished with naloxone nasal kits from the Monroe County Health Department.
“This is just another chapter ongoing with the crises,” he said. “The police officers are exposed to hazards, and this has raised awareness to just that.”
The opioid antidote medicine can also be purchased at a pharmacy, said Justin Phillips founder of addiction nonprofit Overdose Lifeline.
“Because if you’re at home with your loved one and they overdose you can administer a dose before EMS arrives,” Phillips says. “That’s one less dose EMS has to use.”
The nonprofit is hoping to donate additional kits to the Sheriff’s Office.