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BHC police now carrying drug to reverse overdoses

May 4, 2018 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — Bullhead City Police officers started carrying Narcan in mid-April. The drug reverses opioid overdoses, and officers are carrying it in a nasal spray form.

“Since police officers are often the first people to respond to a drug-related incident, they may be able to take life-saving action before medical aid arrives,” said Emily Fromelt, the department’s public information officer.

No one in the department has had to administer the drug yet, Fromelt said.

“The BHCPD wanted to implement the Narcan program for the safety of the community and our officers,” she said. “It has become a best practice with law enforcement for police officers to have this life saving tool immediately available to them.”

Chief Brian Williamson said in a written statement that the state provided the first supply of the drug. It’s expected to cost about $2,250 to replace the first batch once it’s either used or passes its expiration date.

Inhalers are good for up to 18 months. The department is looking for money from the state or another outside source to pay for the future supply of the drug.

“If we cannot find outside funding, I plan on using drug seizure funds to finance this program,” Williamson said.

The Arizona Department of Health Services trained the department’s first aid instructors in using Narcan. Those instructors then taught the rest of the department as part of scheduled ongoing training.

Officers carrying Narcan also can use it as a safety tool. Should any officers inadvertently come in contact with a large amount of heroin, opioids or fentanyl, they can be given a dose of Narcan immediately.

Fromelt pointed out that fentanyl is 40 to 50 times more powerful than heroin and can be inhaled easily if it’s airborne, or absorbed through the skin.

Arizona law allows peace officers and emergency medical care technicians to administer such medication once they receive proper training.

Four doctors practicing in Mohave County were among the top 15 opioid prescribers in the state from April 2016-2017. They wrote prescriptions for nearly 6 million pills, according to the Arizona Board of Pharmacy.

Kingman police were the first in Arizona to carry the drug and officers have saved five people, said Kingman Police Department Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper.

Police officers in Lake Havasu City began carrying Narcan late last year.

In 2016, 790 people died from opioid overdoses in Arizona, according to the Department of Health Services.