Burlington Police to get overdose reversal drug

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ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- When someone's high goes too far, Burlington Police officers will soon be able to save a life, using just a small vial of medicine known as Narcan.

Every law enforcement agency except two in Alamance County is working to get the drug inside patrol cars. Burlington City Council just approved training by county EMS.

Burlington Police Chief, Jeffrey Smythe has seen Narcan work himself.

"So when they give the injection or Narcan they are like, boom, they go from passed out to ready to fight and often come up pissed because they paid good money for their high and we just took it away," Smythe said.

Smythe said this drug will definitely save more lives.

"The hardcore, chronic illegal drug user to the inadvertent accidental overdose and everything in between -- I think we're going to see a lot of all of it," Smythe said.

Narcan reverses an overdose from heroin or pain killers. This year cops in North Carolina have used it to save 26 people. Five of them in the Triad. Thousands of officers around the country are carrying Narcan, which is extremely simple to administer. Forty-one law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are using it as of this month.

Tracey Saunders, the training officer for Alamance County EMS will be training police in Alamance County on how to give the drug. It's especially effective in rural areas where ambulance response time can be longer.

"Generally, they (police) are going to be the first ones on the scene potentially if it actually is dispatched out as an overdose," she said.

Alamance County is also getting the drug at no cost, thanks to a grant from Community Care of North Carolina's Project Lazarus. Chief Smythe says the decision was a no-brainer.

"There's literally no downside so litigation has been exempted by the legislature," Smythe said.

Saunders explained that Narcan removes whatever is causing a person's overdose from their cells and doesn't do any harm to a patient even if they are not having an overdose.

Officers in Burlington are expected to have the drug by February 2016.

"We're trying to get out in front of this and not be looking backward at three or four or eight deaths and say wow we should adopt this," Smythe said.

Alamance County residents can learn more about their officers carrying Narcan at two community forums on Monday, Jan. 11 at the Kernodle Senior Center in Burlington at 11:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

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