By Tia Lynn Ivey
“It’s a miracle drug,” said City Manager David Nunn of the new medicine city police and other emergency personnel will soon be equipped with to potentially save lives. The City of Madison Police Department was recently awarded a $750 grant through the Medical Association of Georgia to fund the supply of Narcan, a nasal spray form of naloxone for emergency treatments of opioid overdose. The Madison Mayor and City Council unanimously voted to accept the grant at the request of City Police Chief Bill Ashburn.
As an opioid crises sweeps across the country claiming tens of thousands of lives each year, local emergency responders are increasingly using this FDA-approved drug to save overdosing victims. According to officials, “NARCAN Nasal Spray counteracts the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose. Since most accidental overdoses occur in a home setting, it was developed for first responders, as well as family, friends, and caregivers.”
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) “opiods are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.”
The use of opioids has increased drastically in recent years, contributing to the alarming increases of accidental deaths. According to the ASAM, “Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015. From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in 2010 were four times those in 1999; and the substance use disorder treatment admission rate in 2009 was six times the 1999 rate.”
These troubling statistics have inspired law enforcements agencies and emergency medical workers to become proactive in combatting these dangerous drugs. “I think anything that the city or public safety agencies can do to save a life, I am in favor of it,” said Nunn. “It is definitely a worthwhile endeavor.
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department is also in the process of supplying their officers and emergency first responders with Narcan. According to Captain Chris Bish, Narcan has already saved 41 lives in the State of Georgia this year.
“This is something that should be available to all public safety workers. Ours will be trained in the proper way to recognize overdose symptoms and how to administer the drug,” said Nunn. “I am very proud of the police department for moving forward with this, knowing that we will be prepared if ever the time comes when we need to use this.”