Drug to help with overdose victims

“We are in the business to save lives. This is something that appears to be very simple and very effective that we can use. We are not trying to take the place of trained paramedics”
Tom Jackson
May 9, 2014


The Erie County Sheriff’s Office has begun deploying naloxone, a drug credited with saving the lives of dozens of heroin overdose victims in Lorain County.

“We have it out with our deputies on the road,” Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

The sheriff’s office began using it late last week. School resource deputies and administrators at the sheriff’s office, including Sigsworth himself, also have been issued the drug.    

Naloxone, known commercially under a variety of names, including Narcan, is usually given as a mist sprayed into the nose of a person who is unconscious because of an overdose of heroin or another opiate.

It was introduced in Ohio last year in Lorain County, where law enforcement tried it as a pilot project authorized by the state.

The Lorain Police Department’s spokesman for the program couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, but Vermilion’s police chief, Chris Hartung, said it’s saved 32 or 33 lives so far.

Because Vermilion is partially in Lorain County, it took part in the pilot program. The small department has used the drug twice, Hartung said.

The first use was in January; it saved someone who apparently made a suicide attempt, Hartung said.

The second time, police were too late.

“The second one, she still had the needle in her arm. She had passed away,” Hartung said.

When the Lorain County experiment proved to be a success, lawmakers passed a law making the drug available to law enforcement officers in Ohio’s other 87 counties.

Sigsworth, who had watched what was going on Lorain County, worked with Erie County’s Health Department to get it out to his deputies quickly.

“We are in the business to save lives. This is something that appears to be very simple and very effective that we can use. We are not trying to take the place of trained paramedics” Sigsworth said.

The health department has helped by paying the initial cost of the drug. In addition, the state’s pharmacy board is charging $112.50 to issue a license to every law enforcement agency, and the health department has agreed to pay that cost, too.

Health department officials also have been training law officers on how to use naloxone. The health department deserves a lot of credit for its help, Sigsworth said, and went out of its way to provide the training for the various times deputies are on duty.

Health Commissioner Pete Schade said the department is helping four Erie County police departments obtain their licenses: the Sandusky Police Department, and police departments for Perkins, Bay View and Huron. The health department will send in the applications and pay the fees, Schade said.

The health department is trying to help police obtain the life-saving drug as soon as possible, he said.

Hartung said it’s absurd for state officials to charge governments a pharmacy fee for saving lives.

“I’m going to be down in Columbus to discuss that with them, because I think it’s bullshit,” Hartung said. “I was like, wait a minute, why are we paying the fee in the first place? We’re a government agency”



On the news the other night, there was a lady on there talking about how she had lost her nephew to heroin. With this drug they saved him the first time. He had another 5 years with them because this drug saved his life. Well sounds like he went right back to doing heroin. So it just prolonged the inevitable. She then went on to say how she works in a motel and that she is pushing to get this drug for every MOTEL and GAS STATION! (she did live in Michigan) That a lot of OD's happen in motels and gas stations, and if the employees had access to this drug many more could be saved. Who would want to work in a gas station and be responsible for that? Minimum wage, and have the responsibility for trying to save an OD victim in a bathroom or motel room? What happens when it doesn't work? Or they don't want to do it? Are they fired? Not hired?


it's like teachers having guns to protect the schools. if I have to be a paramedic and a housekeeper, I want twice the pay. end of story.


Its their choice to die this way. I'm sorry to sound harsh but that is the reality. Why should I be burdened to try to save a junkie?


You will really be burdened when the junkie overdoses goes into a coma becomes brain dead and is maintained on life support in an ICU then dies. Every human deserves the benefit of the doubt and the best possible chance for life. Everyone has a soul. Complain about the cost of the heroin user that is busted sent to jail fed in jail supervised in jail then sent to court to clog the court system. After all that then put on probation supervised and then test positive on a urine test just to be sent back to jail again. All costing money then just overdoses and dies. This is a cheap way to an eye opening chance of life for these junkies, not much of a down side. Who is anyone to say that an addict should not be given a chance at being whole again?


I agree. I have sympathy only to a certain extent. They're drug addicts and I don't feel I should be responsible for saving their lives or putting up with their crimes.


How are you being burdened? Clearly you are not into saving lives so I'm sure you're not in the profession of saving lives... Therefor there will be no burden to you.


Being that the COUNTY health department and the COUNTY Sheriff are using this drug, the tax payer are paying for it. That is a burden to Joe Public. Where do you think the money or "grant" money comes from? You choose to do drugs, you OD, you get this drug, and are "saved". Then in a few years you do it again and again, and again. Until one day, they are too late, you take just too much or it just doesn't work anymore. Sounds like it just prolongs the inevitable or gives them a free pass to see how far they can press their luck.


drug addicts are a burden to society. period.


As are smokers, drinkers, obese people, children, elderly, cancer patients, the learning disabled, government workers including the military, social security recipients including the disabled.

In short everybody at some point is a burden to society. So where do you suggest we draw the line on who lives and dies?


I totally agree with you sunshine1121


This drug can be used for more than a heroin overdose. Our officers will be educated enough to choose who to use it on. Just because u most Likely are uneducated on the drug, you should not cry about a drug that will save a life. Because someone is a drug addict they do not deserve to die. I'm sure if it was your family you would think differant. Stop being cheap and worried about a dollar in tax increase!


I heard about this 3 weeks ago on the AM news on the radio.


You are correct that drug users don't deserve to die. They choose to die, big difference between the two!


I was on the fence about EMTs being able to administer this drug and now police officers can, too?! Why bother? If you choose to do drugs you choose to put your life at risk. Narcan should be able to be administered in an emergent situation by public service employees for those NOT doing drugs. For instance, the elderly population...dementia/Alzheimer's is a huge problem. There are many patients that come into the ER related to confusion and accidental overdose from their home medications. Attempting to save the life of an individual that is most likely going to use again is pointless. Just another waste of resources provided by taxpayers.


We need to make sure that there are good drug recovery programs which are accessible to support addicts and to avoid overdose in the first place. We can save an addict's life from overdose with naloxone but we also need to help them recover from their addiction. Nobody wants to be addicted. By the time an addict overdoses their problem is obviously out of control. We can't just say let's save them from this overdose and then not follow up with a good program to help them long term.


Meanwhile genuine everyday people struggle daily to make ends meet.....