Health

In seven months, C.R. police Narcan program saves three lives

A two-pack box of Narcan nasal spray, the name brand of the life-saving overdose drug naloxone, is seen last August at Mission of Hope in Cedar Rapids. Since the Cedar Rapids Police Department began equipping its officers with the drug last September, it has been used to save three lives.

(Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
A two-pack box of Narcan nasal spray, the name brand of the life-saving overdose drug naloxone, is seen last August at Mission of Hope in Cedar Rapids. Since the Cedar Rapids Police Department began equipping its officers with the drug last September, it has been used to save three lives. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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BACKGROUND

CEDAR RAPIDS — In an effort to curb fatal opioid overdoses and protect first responders, the Cedar Rapids Police Department opted in September to equip its officers with Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug that often is administered through the nose.

The department spent $3,600 on 96 doses of Narcan, according to public safety spokesman Greg Buelow, who added the money came out of a portion of the department’s operating budget that is earmarked for medical supplies.

Buelow said the Narcan is in medical kits officers carry when on duty. When officers go on shift, they can check out the medical equipment. At the end of their shift, officers return the supplies to the department.

“The intent … is to provide additional time for the victim to get to appropriate medical facilities for further care,” Buelow told The Gazette in September. “And purchasing the Narcan is a small investment that could potentially save a person’s life and protect those of the first responders.”

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE

Since September, Narcan “has been proven to be effective in saving at least three lives,” according to Capt. Jeff Hembera, who manages the Patrol Division.

“When officers started carrying Narcan, we thought that the program could be considered successful if even one life was saved,” Hembera said. “We also realized that having the medication available would be an important tool at officers’ disposal in serious medical situations where a fellow law enforcement officer or first responder was accidentally exposed.”

Buelow said patrol officers have administered four doses of Narcan in the past seven months, three of which resulted in saves and one that did not.

The police department’s first save was Oct. 15, when a police officer responded to a medical call for a 44-year-old woman who was suspected of overdosing on methadone. Buelow said the woman was unresponsive when officers arrived. Within five minutes of receiving a Narcan dose, the patient started to become alert and more responsive.

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Four months later, Buelow said officers saw their second Narcan save. Police responded Feb. 7 to a residence in the northeast quadrant and found a 25-year-old man who was unconscious and not breathing.

Another person was performing CPR on the man with the help of instructions from a 911 dispatcher when officers arrived, police said.

“It was determined that the victim had overdosed on heroin, so an officer administered naloxone hydrochloride, or Narcan, through a nasal applicator into the victim’s nostril,” Buelow said. “The victim soon regained consciousness.”

Most recently, police were dispatched April 1 to a residence in the northeast quadrant for a 27-year old man who was unconscious and not breathing.

When officers arrived, they provided emergency medical care and administered Narcan, Buelow said. The man started to regain consciousness a short time later. It was determined that he had injected himself with heroin earlier in the night.

According to Sgt. Michelle Omar, who manages the police department’s emergency medical services program, none of the department’s initial 90 doses have had to be used on emergency personnel because of accidental contact with opioids.

And, as the department goes through its initial supply, Omar said it plans to take advantage of grant opportunities to replenish used Narcan and replace the first batch of the opioid-reversing drug that expires in May 2020.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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