Message from the Chief: Saving Lives with Naloxone

By Chief Jim Mongernew-interim-chief-jim-monger

Opioid drugs include illicit drugs like heroin and prescription pain relief drugs like morphine, Fentanyl, OxyContin, and Hydrocodone. These drugs are highly addictive and have led to an epidemic of overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 500,000 people have died from overdoses between 2000 and 2015. Ninety-one Americans die every day from opioid overdose. Some of these deaths include children who get into their parent’s medicine cabinets.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue (TVF&R) statistics show from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016, they responded to 67 opioid overdose calls in Beaverton and 2 were fatal.

For several years, EMS providers possessed a drug they could use to stop the effects of opioid overdoses and keep the patient alive. The drug, commonly known as Narcan, is now available in a nasal application form called Naloxone. Naloxone is intended for lay persons to administer in emergency situations. Clackamas County police agencies have been carrying Naloxone for the past year and have saved several lives.

Last summer, the Beaverton Police Department partnered with TVF&R to explore equipping our officers with Naloxone. We learned the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was also exploring Naloxone, and joined with them to form a team from several other Washington County police agencies to train and equip officers to use Naloxone. This team is working with the Washington County Medical Director’s office.

During this year’s annual in-service training, personnel from TVF&R taught the certification class in combination with its regular CPR and AED training. As our officers completed this class, they became certified to carry and administer Naloxone. We will be issuing nasal applicators this spring.

The City of Beaverton is purchasing the initial supply of Naloxone to get it in the field as soon as possible with hopes of being able to intervene early in one of these situations to prevent tragedy.

For more information, please visit the Washington County Public Health website or www.AnyonePDX.org.