Sebastian County law enforcement officials will soon be receiving the opioid counter-agent naloxone for use.
Naloxone, commonly known by the brand name Narcan, has been given to law enforcement in multiple Arkansas counties as part of a Prescription Drug Overdose grant. A number of Sebastian County law enforcement officials will be given Narcan kits once they are trained in how to properly administer the substance in July, Criminal Justice Institute Director Cheryl May said Wednesday at the Sebastian County Opioid Summit.
“It’s an opportunity for us to take it to the next level and try to save lives in regard to opioid overdoses," Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said Wednesday.
Naloxone is "a non-addictive, life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when administered in time," according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It serves as a stop-gap between an overdose and further medical treatment, Paul Smith, director of the 12th and 21st District Drug Task Force, said in May.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 104 naloxone saves on people ages 16-62 in the state since the establishment of the Arkansas Naloxone Project in 2016, state drug director Kirk Lane said. One such save was in Crawford County, where a sheriff's deputy administered Narcan to a man who was unresponsive after injecting a substance in his vehicle, according to a Drug Task Force news release.
“The more that’s there could even save one of our officer’s lives, or one of our first responders’ lives," May said, pointing out that some opioids, like fentanyl, can be ingested upon skin contact.
Sebastian County, which had some of the highest numbers for opioid prescription and abuse in Arkansas in the latest available years for data, suffered 25 drug overdose deaths in 2016, according to CDC. Lane estimated there are 30 non-fatal drug overdoses for every fatal overdose.
“All the data, everything we’ve looked at, indicates there is a big need (in Sebastian County)," May said of Narcan.
The Prescription Drug Overdose grant requires a community coalition to ensure its implementation. Hollenbeck said Wendesday that the Sebastian County Opioid Task Force, which organized the opioid summit and is comprised of medical, pharmaceutical and law enforcement officials, will take the lead on implementing the grant.
May said she will start training Sebastian County law enforcement officials on Narcan administration after the Fourth of July.
"We’re going to be able to get most everybody trained," May said. "I’ve worked with them, I’ve done their policies, I’ve got the procedures done."
Hollenbeck said he would eventually like to see deputies, troopers, officers, court security deputies and detention deputies have a Narcan kit.
"It’s a life-saving tool, and we need to get it in the hands of people who need it," Hollenbeck said.
“There is no reason for every first responder in this county not to carry a kit," May said. "Absolutely none.”