All 27 police agencies in Essex County have been supplied with Narcan kits to assist law enforcement in treating individuals suspected of overdosing on heroin or other opiates, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today.
“Today, 250 Narcan kits will be given to local law enforcement agencies. The goal of this program is to equip every police department in Essex County, including campus police and others, to be able to immediately render life-saving assistance to someone who is overdosing on heroin or other opiates,’’ said Murray.
According to the Essex County Prosecutor, Narcan, the trade name for Naloxone, has been successful in reversing the effects of an opiate overdose. It is a drug with no euphoric properties and minimal side effects. If administrated to a person who is not experiencing an overdose, it cannot harm the patient. It comes in nasal form and can easily be administered by someone with little or no medical background.
“Because police officers often arrive on the scene prior to emergency medical personnel, they will now be able to intervene and provide relief until back up help arrives,’’ said Murray.
In May of 2013, Gov. Chris Christie signed into the law the Overdose Prevention Act. This law allows a physician to prescribe an opiate antidote, such as Naloxone, to anyone who may be in a position to assist another individual during an opiate overdose. During 2014, the State Attorney General’s Office set up a pilot program to train police officers on how to use Naloxone when responding to suspected overdoses.
At least 557 people died from heroin overdoses in New Jersey in 2013, according to NJ.com, giving the state a higher rate of deaths from the drug than New York City, while state and local data shows scores more died from overdoses related to other opiates
In October 2014, all law enforcement agencies in Essex County attended a Train the Trainer session to learn to administer the opiate antidote.
Acting Prosecutor Murray authorized the purchase of 250 Narcan kits to be distributed county-wide to all law enforcement agencies to initiate the program. The Essex County Hospital Center and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo provided assistance in getting the program off the ground. Law enforcement agencies will be responsible for replenishing these kits once they are depleted.
Nationwide a movement is underway to have police officers, first responders and even family members carry Narcan kits.