Raleigh police officers will soon carry naloxone, which can save the life of someone who is overdosing on heroin or other opioid drugs.
The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday agreed to spend $24,000 to buy naloxone, a synthetic drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose by blocking opiate receptors in the nervous system.
Wake County Emergency Medical Services began training 600 Raleigh police officers and personnel last month and will finish Aug. 29.
Officers will administer the drug as a nasal spray, Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said.
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“We believe this really gives us an opportunity to have simplicity in how we administer the naloxone, as well as making it very simple in rendering that aid as we see needed,” she said.
Like many cities and towns across the country, Raleigh has seen a rise in opioid overdoses and deaths. The city estimates a 190 percent increase in overdoses and a 166 percent increase in overdose-related deaths between 2015 and the end of this year.
That works out to about 15 overdoses and fourth deaths per month, Deck-Brown said.
In recent years, some law enforcement and EMS agencies across North Carolina have started using naloxone, usually in the form of an injection. Wake County sheriff’s deputies were issued naloxone to carry on patrol last September.
Carrboro’s police department was the first in North Carolina to prevent a drug overdose death when an officer equipped with the antidote drug arrived at a home in 2015 where a man had overdosed on heroin.
Last year, the N.C. General Assembly approved legislation that allowed pharmacies to dispense the drug without a prescription. Last week, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency.
“One more opportunity to save a life is worthwhile,” Raleigh City Councilman Bonner Gaylord said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon