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Narcan approved for use on overdose victims

Tom Jackson • Aug 27, 2014 at 3:04 PM

A program that has saved the lives of heroin overdose victims in Lorain County will soon be coming to Erie County.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed a new law that allows law enforcement officers to administer emergency doses of Narcan when a heroin user is unresponsive after an apparent overdose.

“Anything we can do as first responders to save people’s lives, I’m in favor of,” Perkins police Chief Ken Klamar said. “That’s what we’re here to do. At the end of the day, we want to help people”

The law extending the use of Narcan, also known as Naloxone, comes in the wake of a successful pilot program in Lorain County that’s been credited with saving a number of lives. The drug is usually administered as a nasal mist into a person’s nostrils. Police and deputies in Lorain County have used it to revive drug overdose victims who were apparently near death.

Klamar said he’ll be issuing Narcan to his patrol officers as soon as they can be trained to use it.

“I’ve seen it work here in the township when our paramedics arrive on scene and have been able to administer it” Klamar said.

There are cases when a police officer who happens to be nearby will be the first person to arrive in an emergency, Klamar said.

“The officer may be two or three homes away. We can sometimes beat them by four or five minutes” Klamar said. “That can make a huge difference when somebody’s not breathing”

Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said his officers have been dealing with heroin situations, and he wants to save lives, but he needs to research the matter before making an announcement.

“I’ve asked the law director and the fire chief to give me their thoughts and their comments on it,” Orzech said.

Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth and health commissioner Pete Schade learned last year that the law was in the works and took the lead in making Narcan available here.

Sigsworth decided to issue Narcan to his deputies as soon as it became available, and he told other law enforcement agencies in the county about it. Schade agreed to provide the necessary training for the police officers and deputies.

Sigsworth said he’s determined to get Narcan into the hands of his deputies soon.

“We want to get that done as soon as possible” he said.

Schade said the health department has agreed to purchase the first batch of Narcan.

“We’re already talking with a couple of different pharmacies we deal with, trying to get it in here by the end of this week” he said.

He said the health department has agreed to buy the first batch. The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties has agreed to cover half the cost, and grants may become available, Schade said.

“Initially, I’m willing to put a couple of grand on the table and get it here” Schade said.

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