CLEARFIELD – While some may think it’s controversial, others recognize how drugs like Naloxone can save lives.
According to information from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health, naloxone is a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug, such as prescription pain medication or heroin.
When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes.
Naloxone has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years and has only one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death.
In September of 2014, a U.S. Senate Bill was approved, allowing first responders including law enforcement, firefighters, EMS or other organizations the ability to administer naloxone, a life-saving medication to reverse opioid overdoes.
Officers from both the Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township Police Departments have received training to carry and administer naloxone through a grant. The officers attended the training from the Municipal Police Training Center.
With all officers from both departments received the training, they entered into an agreement with Penn Highlands Healthcare. The hospital provides all the officers with two doses of naloxone.
If an officer is called on to use one of their doses, they must complete a report, which is submitted to the hospital and with the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“When lives are at stake, seconds matter,” Lawrence Township Police Chief Doug Clark said. “We’re almost always the first on scene when something happens. We want to save lives. That’s what we’re here for.”
Clark said he knows of only two recent cases where naloxone has been used locally. One of these victims was revived by Clark himself.
“It’s valuable training,” Clark said. “We received training about how to use it and when it’s needed.” Clark said the officers have been carrying the naloxone for a few weeks now.
“There’s obviously a drug problem in this area,” Clearfield Borough Police Chief Vince McGinnis said. “We agreed to take this training because it allows us to be better equipped to handle these situations.”
Both McGinnis and Clark stressed that the naloxone is not just used for individuals with drug addiction problems. There have been cases where young children have gotten into their parents’ medications and overdosed accidently and also for individuals who mistakenly take the incorrect dosage of their medication.
However, the naloxone can also be used to save the lives of police officers.
“There have been incidents in the United States where police officers have come into contact with fentanyl and carfentanil and suffered an overdose,” Clark said. “We not only use it to save other people, we can use it to save ourselves.”
“You never know what you’re going to come across when you’re out there,” McGinnis said. “Officers could be exposed to something and not know it until something happens. We have to worry about ourselves and others. It’s another tool we can use if it’s needed.”