Elizabethton PD trains to carry Naloxone in patrol cars
ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - More people in Tennessee died in 2014 from drug overdoses than people killed in car accidents, that's accord the Tennessee Department of Health.
Now there's a push in our area for more use of Naloxone, an overdose reversing medicine.
Usually it's EMS that carries Narcan, the name-brand, or Naloxone, the generic version. However, more law enforcement agencies across the country are started to carry it, including a police department in our area.
That way if officers get to the scene first, they will not have to wait for medics to revive the victim. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, overdose death rates in Tennessee are double the national average, and northeast Tennessee has the highest rates in the state. "We lost 82 lives in Carter County alone in the last 6 years from opioid overdose," Angela Hagaman with the ETSU College of Public Health and the Carter County Anti-Drug Coalition said. The coalition is trying to reduce overdose deaths in the area by teaching people about Naloxone, the medicine that can immediately revive someone from an opioid overdose. "We're calling it volunteer to save a life," Hagaman said. The coalition put together kits that are equipped with Naloxone that can be administered by squirting it through the nose. Different agencies in the county gathered at the Carter County Health Department Wednesday night to learn how to use it. Including Sergeant Matt Croy with the Elizabethton Police Department.
"Any tool we can get to assist in saving a life is better than you know not having it," Sgt. Croy said. Soon that tool will be in every Elizabethton patrol car. Dr. David Kirschke, MD says its one of the first law enforcement agencies in our area to carry it. "Usually EMS carries Naloxone, but sometimes they're delayed to getting there so the first person on scene, if they can deliver Naloxone you have a better chance," Dr. Kirschke said. However, because of a Good Samaritan Law passed in 2014, the qualifications to administer the antidote are not limited to first-responders, anyone can do it. "Anyone can get this, and anyone can have access to this," Hagaman said.
"So as long as you're acting in good faith of trying to save someone's life you can't be sued," Dr. Kirschke said. Training is required to administer the antidote. You can do it online here.
Training is important because the effects of Naloxone are immediate. Dr. Kirschke says once a person is revived, they will likely have withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone costs about $20 for one vial of the medicine, but most insurance companies cover at least some of it. It can be purchased without a prescription at CVS and Lingerfelt Drug Center in Elizabethton.
The Carter County Anti-Drug Coalition is donating Naloxone kits to the Elizabethton Police Department through a grant from the Tennessee Department of Minority Health and Disparity Elimination, as well as donations from Lingerfelt Drug Center.