The Duxbury Police department is actively exploring the possibility of training officers how to use and carry a drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose.
Police Chief Matthew Clancy is working closely with the Plymouth County District Attorney’s office and the Mayor of Brockton, Bill Carpenter, to participate in the Narcan Train-the-Trainer program, which will take place in Brockton on April 4. The Police Department trainees will receive the necessary training and certification to implement nasal Narcan. Naloxone, marketed as Narcan, is a drug that is used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose, such as heroin or morphine. Law enforcement personnel who are trained in using Narcan typically administer nasal Narcan, which is a mist that delivers the drug to the nasal linings. When administered, the drug brings the patient out of his or her overdose.
“It’s sort of a magical antidote,” Clancy said.
Clancy said the Duxbury Police Department has some sample policies it would like to implement and is planning on working with the police union and fire department to solidify procedures and policies.
The recent arrest of a Duxbury man on heroin possession charges has put the issue of heroin use on the minds of several officials in town. At least 185 Massachusetts residents have died from heroin overdoses since November, according to data recently released by the Massachusetts State Police. Several surrounding towns have received national attention for the number of heroin overdose victims that have been found. Most recently, a Cohasset man became the seventh person to die in Brockton of a suspected heroin overdose in 17 days. Just weeks before, US Senator Edward J. Markey visited Taunton and held a press conference, highlighting the sharp increase in sometimes fatal heroin doses in the area.
“We are hyper–sensitive from the investigative standpoint when it comes to heroin,” Clancy said. “We kick it into high gear when we get any information that we have related activity here in town, and now more so with what’s been going on.”
Clancy previously experienced the success of the drug as an overdose antidote when he was a road officer in a town with a very serious heroin problem.
“I was on scene and we had an overdose victim that was essentially deceased,” he said. “The paramedics administered the Narcan and a couple of minutes later I was talking to the victim in the back of the ambulance.”
Fire Chief Kevin Nord said there have been only a handful of drug overdoses in Duxbury in the past several years. Both fire stations in Duxbury are staffed with paramedics who currently carry Narcan and who have carried the opiate antagonist drug for several years.
“Narcan is one of the staple medications for our paramedics,” Nord said. “Anytime there is an opiate overdose, such as with painkillers, Narcan can reverse the opiate effect.”
While the drug can bring the patient fully out of the overdose state, Nord said his paramedics are trained to administer just enough of the drug to bring the patient back to life, but keep them in a state where they can be easily transported to the hospital.
Compared to larger surrounding towns that utilize private ambulance companies, Nord said Duxbury’s ambulances and paramedics are usually the first on the scene and are able to easily administer Narcan to a patient in need. While Nord said he does not see an immediate need for the police department to train its officers in the administration of Narcan, he said he will fully support the department, and even offered to help in the training process.
Because of the lack of a substantial number of overdoses in Duxbury, Nord said carrying the drug becomes quite expensive because the drug has an expiration date. A medical control director oversees the drug and keeps track of various expiration dates.
The surge in heroin-related cases has also brought to light a recent trend to cut heroin with other drugs, increasing the likelihood of an overdose.
“The issue is all around us,” Clancy said. “It is foolhardy to believe these addictions honor any town boundaries. Duxbury is very susceptible and I’m happy to know we haven’t had any substantial need to administer Narcan here.”
Clancy said it is his intention to pursue having one vial of nasal Narcan in each police unit. If everything comes together quickly, Clancy hopes to roll out the program by mid- to late spring.