Kenton County chief: Narcan program is working

Posted at 12:58 AM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 03:29:08-05

INDEPENDENCE, Ky. -- Kenton County police have used Narcan five times since July, when each officer got a supply of the lifesaving anti-opiate.

Once each in Piner, Walton and Covington, and twice in Independence.

It's worked four of those times.

"I would have rather it had been five out five saves, every time these devices were deployed," Chief Spike Jones said, "but I'm very happy that it worked four times for those folks that did get a second chance at recovery."

Narcan, the trade name for naloxone, works by reversing the effects of opiates such as heroin. For someone who's overdosed, getting Narcan in time can be the difference between living and dying. 

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Because of longer response times to its more rural areas, Kenton County police officers have gotten medical training for more than 13 years, according to Detective Andrew Schierberg. Naloxone is just the latest tool in their medical kits.

Jones explained that, though some people don't think officers should carry Narcan, his department is in the life-saving business.

"You know, we're in a situation now that we realize that we're dealing with a terrible disease that's being fed by some pretty heinous folks dealing drugs," he said.

Though the people who need Narcan are addicted to heroin, they deserve a chance to get clean, Jones said.

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"I think we have to look at these individuals as human beings and these are lives. And again, we save lives, we don't judge them," he added.

Kentucky has some of the nation's highest drug overdose death rates -- 24.7 per 100,000 people, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half a million Americans died from drug overdoses from 2000 through 2014, the CDC says.

Drug overdoses -- particularly those from prescription opioid painkillers -- has become a priority issue for the Atlanta-based CDC. Last month, the agency released draft guidelines for family doctors, encouraging them to be more careful about prescribing opioids for chronic pain.