Police Equipped to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Thursday, March 2, 2017
Police Equipped to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Hillsborough police have been enlisted in the fight against opioid overdose deaths.

All officers have received training in the use of naloxone, which can effectively reverse an otherwise fatal opioid overdose within minutes, and all police vehicles now carry a kit for administering the drug.

“We’re really proud that Hillsborough officers are carrying it,” said Orange County Emergency Medical Services Operations Manager Kim Woodward, who coordinated with the Hillsborough Police Department and Orange County Health Department to implement the program. With the addition of Hillsborough, all local law enforcement agencies in Orange County are now able to administer the drug, Woodward said. Other agencies in the county have used the drug to reverse eight overdoses, and the person receiving naloxone survived in each case.

Woodward said officers participated in 90-minute training sessions in which they learned about the prevalence of opioid abuse in North Carolina and what indicators to look for before administering naloxone. The training also emphasized other treatments that may be necessary, such as CPR, and how to administer the drug using a nasal spray. Officers then acted out different scenarios in which they had to decide whether to administer the drug to a mannequin representing a possible overdose victim. “The officers were spot-on” with their decision making in the exercises, Woodward said.

While paramedics have carried naloxone for decades, law enforcement officers in many states now carry it to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses when reaching the location first. Commonly abused opioids include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), morphine, fentanyl, codeine and heroin.

As a prescription drug, naloxone’s use by law enforcement had to be authorized by an act of the N.C. General Assembly, which happened in 2013.

Medication drop box

As a reminder, the Police Department has a drop box for unused medications intended to prevent drug abuse and addiction by reducing the amount of excess medication in the community. The drop box is located in the lobby of the main station, 127 N. Churton St., and is accessible from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The following guidelines apply to the drop box:

  • Liquid medications must be in original containers.
  • Pill medications must be in original containers or a sealable bag.
  • Needles are not accepted.

The Orange County Health Department has safe, confidential syringe disposal in its Hillsborough and Chapel Hill clinic lobbies. The Hillsborough clinic is located at 300 W. Tryon St.