BUTLER, Ala. (WTOK) – The opioid epidemic is on pace to claim over 500,000 lives over the next decade. But, a new tool in the hands of law enforcement could help cut the statistic.
“The opioid crisis has ravished this country so much that we just wanted to in our community, we wanted the law enforcement officers to be equipped with the knowledge and the training to effectively treat and save lives,” said David Roberts, a nurse at Choctaw General Hospital.
Thanks to Alabama lawmakers and a grant through Choctaw General Hospital, local cops are now able to treat overdose patients on scene with Narcan. A drug many say will save someone’s life.
“This is the nasal Narcan. And basically what they’ll do is pull this cap off, stick it in the nostril and push the button with the thumb and cause the medicine to be injected in the nose,” said David Bonner, course instructor.
Health care professionals are training the West Alabama officers over the next month. The goal is to have every officer carry the antidote.
“We’re going to be the first ones there. Nine times out of ten, we’re going to beat the med unit there and it gives us an opportunity to, if we see something’s wrong, we can at least administer this stuff in hopes to help save a life,” said Butler PD Sergeant Holt Johnson.
Receiving quick medical attention is tough in rural areas, but this drug is proven to compensate the time before an ambulance arrives.
“By the time the ambulance gets there, especially in these rural areas of Alabama, it may be 10 to 15 minutes. But these law enforcement officers are there within 2 or 3 minutes of the call so it’s just a wonderful thing that they’re able to provide this medicine to this patient and possibly save a life while they wait on the ambulance to get there,” said Bonner.
Officers were able to take home their first batch of Narcan after the training session. A new step in saving people from the opioid crisis.
“These guys are heroes and the world needs to know what all they do to protect us and take care of us,” said Bonner.
State lawmakers signed the bill allowing officers to use Narcon back in 2016. Training for officers in Choctaw County will take place over the next four weeks. The Choctaw County Sheriff’s Department, Butler Police Department and Gilbertown Police Department are all taking part in the training.