Wells police first to get new anti-overdose drug
The Wells Police Department is the first police department in Faribault County to receive a life-saving tool that can reverse the symptoms of an opiate overdose in just under a minute.
This tool comes in the form of a nasal mist called Narcan, which helps people who are overdosing from opioids like heroin or prescription pain killers.
Overdose deaths in Minnesota from prescription painkillers and heroine have multiplied six times over, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), since 2001.
The threat of opioid overdoses are far too real, and local police departments, like the Wells Police Department, are learning how to use the potentially life-saving medication for people who may be overdosing on opioids.
Narcan, or Naloxone, is an antidote that reverses an opioid overdose. It comes in a quick assembling nasal spray that neutralizes the opioids in someone’s system and helps people breathe again. It usually costs about $40 per dose, but the Wells Police Department were given a number of doses for no charge thanks to a special grant.
Mark Griffin the director for the South Central region of Minnesota Emergency Medical Services says Minnesota fire, rescue, and police departments have received a $22,000 grant through the Minnesota Department of Health to get Narcan equipment in as many responsible hands as possible.
“Our focus in our area is anything along I-90 and I-35, where drug traffic is heavier. Easton, Minnesota Lake, Bricelyn, Kiester, and Blue Earth will all have Narcan training and receive doses for them to use thanks in part by this grant,” says Griffin.
The boys in blue in the city of Wells learned how the Narcan drug works, how to assemble the mist syringe, and had optimal time to discuss the seriousness of opioid drug use in their hometown area.
“It is really unfortunate that we have such an issue with opiates in our small town areas,” said Wells police chief, Tim Brenegan. “But, now we have tools that are available to us that have the potential to save people’s lives. And, that’s a good thing.”
More Minnesota legislation is in the works for the use of Narcan. The ultimate hope is that Narcan will be readily available for emergency responders and that it will come to little or no cost to them.
“Right now, the grant is making sure Wells and other cities don’t have to pay the $40 per dose cost. And, with the legislation, we hope that EMS, police and fire departments will never have to pay that dosage cost,” says Griffin. “They are even working towards making sure schools have it as well.”
Another portion of legislation that hopes to save lives from opioid overdosing is a legislation called “Steve’s Law.”
The first part of the law is to make sure that as many first responders, police officers, and other prevention programs can carry and administer Narcan.
The second part of the law works so if two opioid users are using drugs, like heroin, and one person overdoses, the other user can call emergency assistance and not have to worry about getting into trouble with the law.
“Our main concern is saving the life of that person who is overdosing, and not worrying about those repercussions of the other user,” says Brenegan.
Other larger cities like Le Sueur, Waseca, and Faribault also have Narcan available to them. Now, Wells and other towns in Faribault County will also have this potentially life-saving drug at their disposal.