Ocean City Today

Resort police carry naloxone in fight against opioid abuse

Some officers have drug for emergencies; health dept. offers training to residents
By Katie Tabeling | Jul 06, 2017
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(July 7, 2017) In another effort to combat the opioid crisis locally, Ocean City Police officers are now trained to administer life-saving medication to overdoes victims.

Narcotics unit detectives completed naloxone training with the Worcester County Health Department in June, and some officers carry the opioid reversal drug. Ocean City police carry Narcan, a brand name naloxone drug, in the form as a nasal spray.

Police Public Affairs Specialist Lindsay Richard said that only narcotics detectives are trained to carry Narcan because of the nature of their work.

She said this group of detectives frequently comes into contact with heroin, the synthetic opioid fentanyl and another synthetic, carfentanyl.

“It’s imperative that we keep them safe given the danger associated with these drugs,” Richard said. “For example, just a speck of carfentanyl could get on their skin while searching a vehicle and it could cause a serious medical emergency.”

Richard added that the training also benefits the public, as these officers are authorized to use them if they came across a citizen or visitor who shows overdose symptoms. Ocean City had 21 opiate overdoses in 2016. Five of them were fatal.

“If they came across someone who was dying and they had something that could save them … they would use it,” she said.

An opioid overdose depresses the respiratory and central nervous systems and could lead to death. Narcan, once sprayed in the nose, counters the effects of the opioid overdose by binding with opiate receptors to the brain. After the drug is administered, the person should be able to breathe easier minutes later.

That extra time is critical when police or others are waiting for emergency medical services to arrive. This is especially so if undercover officers are operating outside the resort, Richard said.

“The majority of time, our officers work in town and can rely on EMS to arrive in 1 to 2 minutes if needed. However, our narcotics detectives often work outside of town in undercover capacities. EMS may not be as efficient, so those detectives need to have another option,” she said.

In a broader scope, Worcester County has supported naloxone training and distribution for ordinary citizens as an overdose prevention measure and is outlined as a key aspect in the Worcester County Heroin/Opioid Community Response Plan.

Studies referenced in that plan show that between 64.6 and 97.4 percent of the people who misuse drugs have reported witnessing an overdose, and that 58 to 86 percent of heroin-related overdoses occur in the company of others.

Since March 2014, the Worcester Health Department has been authorized as a training provider to civilians as well as law enforcement. From July 2015 to July 2016, the health department has trained 474 people.

Naloxone training is offered twice a month at the health department center in Snow Hill, monthly at the Ocean Pines Library and in group settings for detainees at the Worcester County Detention Center.

One-on-one training is also offered to addiction clients during therapy appointments and can include one family member.

Residents who wish to have naloxone training at a specific location should call the Worcester County Health Department at 410-632-0056.

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