By Patrick Yost
More than a year ago Capt. Chris Bish says he saw it coming.
Bish, the head of the investigations division of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, says the trend toward opioid abuse and heroin abuse that started in the western United States and the Eastern Seaboard was slowly but undoubtably headed to Morgan County.
And now, he says, its here. In the last month two men have been arrested on heroin possession charges after each was, basically, found nearly comatose in a vehicle in a public parking lot.
In December Morgan County authorities arrested Joshua W. Stowe, 26, and Edward Tallon, 47, in Rutledge and charged them with trafficking in heroin after they allegedly found 68 grams of flack tar heroin. At the time, authorities called the bust “a substantial seizure.”
“They were getting ready to set up shop,” Bish says.
Now, Bish says, it may be a harbinger of things to come.
And to that end, the department has acquired 50 doses of a drug called Narcan that is designed to save the life of an addict overdosing on a variety of opiates. Bish says the doses, which come in a pre–packaged bag and work as an inhaler, stop the immediate affects of the opiate. The drug has been acquired through a state program called “Death Avoided by Naloxone” (D.A.N). The doses were secured through a $2,000 grant obtained by the department from the state.
“It stops the drug from shutting down their respiratory system,” Bish says. “It will countermand an opiate overdose.”
Bish started attempting to get Narcan more than 16 months ago but was thwarted by a technicality in state law that prevented law enforcement officers from legally administering prescription medicine. Since that time, the law has been relaxed and every member of the Morgan County Sherif’s Office will soon be equipped with Narcon.
In 2017, Bish says, Narcan has already saved 41 people in Georgia. “Every member of the agency,” he says, will have a dose and be trained to administer the drug. Deputies, he says, typically arrive first at most emergency scenes. Deputies will be trained to “recognize signs of opioid overdose and start CPR if necessary.”
The program, he says, should eventually save lives.
“I just want them to have everything they can to save somebody’s life.”