Mo. legislation aims to help first responders during overdose calls

A bill waiting for Governor Mike Parson's signature will give first responders the chance to save more lives using Narcan
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 5:34 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2023 at 6:31 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A bill waiting for Governor Mike Parson’s signature will give first responders the chance to save more lives using Narcan.

Anyone can have or administer Narcan, but in order for police officers to use it, they have to be with or have training from a medical professional. This legislation would make it easier for first responders to respond to overdose calls.

In Cape Girardeau, police see a lot of those.

“We usually respond to two to three overdose calls per week,” Patrolman Bobby Newton with Cape Girardeau Police Department said.

They began carrying Narcan with them two years ago.

”It became very prevalent,” Officer Newton said. “We all carry Narcan on us for those instances that we can give to the victim.”

It’s not just those victims that they might use it on.

”We also keep it on hand for ourselves,” Newton said. “It’s not uncommon for an officer to accidentally ingest narcotics that could cause an overdose, there’s many documented cases of that.”

”We tend to think of opioids and Narcan as something stigmatized, something related to addiction,” Aaron Bales said. He is the Community Behavioral Health Liaison at The Gibson Center. He does Narcan training at many places in southeast Missouri.

Bales said Narcan is more than just a tool for those struggling with addiction. He gave an example of an athlete who tore their ACL. If they forget they already took their prescribed pain medication and take an extra pill, that can cause an overdose. Having narcan on hand can save their life.

“And it’s as simple as just spraying up their nose,” Bales said.

According to Bales, it’s not just easy to use, it’s also incredibly safe.

“If you are in doubt go ahead and give it to somebody because if it’s opioids, it will wake them up, it will revive them,” he said. “And if it’s something else then it’s not going to have any effect.”

Officer Newton said today, Narcan is a necessity.

”It’s extremely important because we have a lot of fake drugs out there that are being laced with opioids that can cause overdoses, so it’s extremely important to have Narcan available and readily accessible,” Newton said.

“I think it’s something we should have in every first aid kit,” Bales added. “Just having that free box of Narcan could be what makes a difference and saves someone’s life.”

According to the Keiser Family Foundation there were nearly 1,600 opioid overdose deaths in Missouri in 2021.

The bill is on Governor Mike Parson’s desk. He has until mid-July to sign it.