According to an article published by the Star Tribune, Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies now carry the heroin antidote that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose and save lives. The antidote is a drug that temporarily counteracts the potentially lethal painkiller or heroin overdose.
A new Minnesota state law now says that first responders and law enforcement officers can administer Narcan, a prescription drug. The law also has a provision within it that provides immunity to individuals who call 911 when a person has overdosed. Before, a person who made such a call could be arrested for their part in the crime of heroin possession or administering heroin. This contributed to individuals not making that call and that would lead to the death of the person who overdosed. Instead, callers are now given the opportunity to save a life without having to pay any criminal penalties themselves.
As of August 12, 24 patrol deputies had been trained to administer the drug, which comes as a nasal spray. Any opioid overdose can be counteracted with the drug. In addition to heroin, oxycodone overdose and hydrocodone overdose can be counteracted. The kits containing Narcan have been placed in the squad cars.
The program was officially launched on August 1, which was the day that the law went into effect. The Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement services for four of the 45 cities in Hennepin County. Those cities are Hanover, Greenfield, Rockford, and Medicine Lake. They also provide services for the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility, the Hennepin County Home School, the 133rd Minnesota Air National Guard, Fort Shelling, the U.S. Marine Corp/Naval Reserves, and the U.S. Air Force Air Wing. The sheriff’s deputies based at the Brooklyn Park patrol headquarters also assist local police forces throughout Hennepin County.
It is said that many cities, especially the outer-ring suburbs and the rural areas, the sheriff’s deputies are usually the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency, which is why they should be able to administer Narcan.
The Hennepin EMS, which is part of Hennepin County Medical Center, have been trained in supervising the sheriff’s deputies in using Narcan. The ambulance crews have carried and administered Narcan for decades, but, as stated before, they are not always the first ones to arrive on the scene of an emergency.
Having Narcan on hand has been cited as being a great additional tool for law enforcement, especially in the rural areas and outer-ring suburb areas. These are areas that the deputies tend to patrol more, so now they have a tool that they can use while waiting on paramedics.
Unfortunately 2013 was a deadly year for heroin and opioid overdoses, which is why it is important that law enforcement is able to carry this drug. In 2013, there were 56 people in Hennepin County alone that were killed by heroin overdoses. It was the deadliest record on record, but 2014 is already close to eclipsing that number. In the first six months of the year, 29 people had already overdosed and died from heroin in Hennepin County.