Officers discuss whether they should carry OD drug for addicts - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Officers discuss whether they should carry OD drug for addicts

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Some believe anyone who responds to an overdose call, including police officers, should carry it. But local law officers say it's not that simple. Some believe anyone who responds to an overdose call, including police officers, should carry it. But local law officers say it's not that simple.
Herndon said they typically administer Narcan three to five times a month, and the results are astonishing. Herndon said they typically administer Narcan three to five times a month, and the results are astonishing.
Heroin use is up 80 percent, 44 incidents were reported in Southeast Missouri last year, but opioid painkiller abuse far outpaces heroin and continues to grow. Heroin use is up 80 percent, 44 incidents were reported in Southeast Missouri last year, but opioid painkiller abuse far outpaces heroin and continues to grow.
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Overdoses in this country are up, especially among heroin and prescription pill abusers, but the drug Narcan can reverse those effects and save lives.

Some believe anyone who responds to an overdose call, including police officers, should carry it. But local law officers say it's not that simple.

"The more drug overdoses that we actually see on a regular basis as far as pain med overdoses, people abusing it," said Sam Herndon, a paramedic supervisor at a Cape Girardeau County Ambulance Service. "As that is on the rise, you notice more people doing it and so we use it a little more often."

Herndon said they typically administer Narcan three to five times a month, and the results are astonishing.

"Just to watch them come out of it," he said. "You've got someone who is essentially almost lifeless and they come out of it and start to become combative, very confused. They don't like it because you've basically just ruined their high. But it is really neat to see the effects of it and how it works so quickly."

Heroin use is up 80 percent, 44 incidents were reported in Southeast Missouri last year, but opioid painkiller abuse far outpaces heroin and continues to grow.

According to the White House, around 100 Americans die from drug overdoses every day. About half of those from heroin and prescription drug abuse.

The FDA has labeled the abuse of prescription meds at epidemic proportions in some parts of the country. Twenty states have laws on the book expanding police officers' access to Narcan, often paired with what's called good samaritan laws.

These laws ensure criminal protection for the people seeking medical help for someone who's at risk of overdosing.

Missouri is not one of those states.

Cape Girardeau Police Officer Darrin Hickey said a lot of thought would have to go into the decision for officers to carry the drug.

"Well, you know police officers have lots of duties," he said. "We have different jobs that we have to do as we respond to calls for service and that liability kind of stops at a certain point. When it becomes a medical issue and where we may possibly be administering drugs, that's something that we have to look into as a liability for the officers, department and city."

The Obama Administration is urging local law enforcement agencies to get training and start carrying the drug, but Officer Hickey said the role of officers has changed over the years. Fast response times of EMTs has nearly eliminated the need for cops to administer medical care.

"We have some basic medical knowledge, but not advanced," Hickey said. "And we'd have to determine where administering a drug falls into that medical side of things."

There's still a lot of questions from a law enforcement perspective. For instance, can they be sued if the drug is used incorrectly?

The drug itself is gaining national attention. Lawmakers in Maine recently introduced legislation to make Narcan available to relatives of addicts.

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