Law enforcement trains for ongoing opioid crisis
CENTRAL, La. (WAFB) - Law enforcement members in the Baton Rouge area said they are placing a bigger focus on training for the growing opioid and drug overdose crisis.
The number of drug overdose deaths in the United States increased by nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020. That’s five times higher than in the late 90s. Nearly 75% of the more than 90,000 drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid.
The crisis hits close to home for the Central Police Department. Officers with the department have witnessed a steady rise in overdose calls.
“We do track our monthly statistics. Calls have increased. DWI calls have increased, and alcohol is not related,” said Clifton Ivey, the assistant police chief with the Central Police Department.
Inside the Central Police Department, officers increasingly end up serving as first responders in drug overdose situations. The officers often arrive at a scene before EMS.
“We patrol. Other agencies, typically fire and EMS do not,” Ivey said.
Many of the officers are now trained and equipped with Narcan. The tool is often known as the opioid antagonist.
“That statute that authorizes law enforcement and first responders to give Narcan out, the training gives parameters of what is required, and one is to recognize the symptoms of opioids or fentanyl overdoses,” Ivey added.
It can take up to 90 minutes for a person to stop breathing after overdosing. When used correctly in that time frame, Narcan restores breathing within two to five minutes, hopefully preventing brain injury and or even death.
“Narcan arrests the effects of the opioid. It blocks the continued effects,” Ivey explained.
Law enforcement officers and first responders carry the drug, which was usually administered via injection. However, in November 2015, the Food and Drug Administration approved a nasal spray version of the drug, making it easier to administer.
“Right now, one-third of our officers are trained. We want to make it 100%,” Ivey said.
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