Through a donation, the Ocean View Police Department now has a more efficient way of dispensing the life-saving opiate-overdose medication naloxone, more commonly known as Narcan.
The new kits, called EVZIO, are an auto-injector of naloxone to counteract the effects of a suspected opioid overdose. The kits, which cost approximately $500 each, were donated by David Humes of atTAcK Addiction, a nonprofit whose mission is to spread the word about addiction by educating students, and the community, assisting families in their quest for information and supporting those in recovery.
The group was instrumental in having Delaware legislation pass allowing anyone — be it emergency personnel or good Samaritans — to carry the lifesaving drug, if certified.
OVPD Cpl. Rhys Bradshaw said each kit comes with a trainer device, as well as two live shots.
“What’s nice is it actually comes with a trainer to show you how to use it,” he explained.
The kits, which are smaller than a pack of cigarettes, are designed to be easy to use, with voice instructions that guide the user through the process. The three-part administration ends with the kit being firmly pressed against the patient’s outer thigh for five seconds, while the injection is dispensed.
Bradshaw said EVZIO is more user-friendly compared to the department’s nasal spray naloxone, which requires some assembly.
“It’s so much easier… For police, that’s good,” said Bradshaw. “The other [naloxone] — it’s temperature-sensitive. This isn’t as temperature-sensitive. It’s more durable for us. And you can just take it and throw it in your pocket, and it’s just there. It’s cop-proof.”
OVPD was the first law-enforcement agency in the state to start carrying the lifesaving drug. Today, the only other agencies that carry it are New Castle County Police Department and the Middletown Police Department.
“It’s hard for big departments to implement. We’re lucky. We have eight people, so when something new comes out and you want to equip everyone with it, it’s not hard,” explained Bradshaw.
He noted that, while other state law-enforcement agencies don’t carry naloxone, emergency services — including the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company and Sussex County EMS — do.
“A year ago, nobody had it,” said OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin of naloxone. “The nice thing is, we’ve got this area covered pretty darn well right now, with us having it and the paramedics having it.”
McLaughlin said opioid use is still a big problem in the state, noting there are still overdoses in the area on a regular basis.
“Just the other week, we had a 17-year-old girl overdose in Bear Trap,” he said.
Another recent overdose involved a 32-year-old woman who overdosed at 10 p.m., was administered naloxone on the scene by paramedics and then transported to Beebe Healthcare in Lewes.
“She’s released from Beebe around 2, 3 in the morning — 8:06 the next morning, we’re getting dispatched out there. We’ve got her in the bathroom, passed out on the floor… Less than 12 hours — second overdose, second shot of [naloxone]. It was something out of Hollywood… Little 4-year-old baby crawling over her… It was just crazy.
“It’s still here. People just don’t understand that the stuff is in our community still.”
McLaughlin also recently attended the ribbon-cutting for Connections Community Support Programs Inc.’s withdrawal management clinic, which is hoped to help people conquer their addiction.
In 2014, there were 185 suspected overdose deaths in Delaware, or about one every other day. Across the country, Delaware ranked 10th for overdose deaths. Almost 10,000 Delaware adults sought public treatment in 2014, with about a third of those adults indicating heroin as their primary drug at the time of admission.
“We lost more people in Delaware last year to heroin overdoses than car crashes,” he said.
Bradshaw stated that law-enforcement agencies, including Ocean View police, are more interested in helping save those who are battling addiction, rather than penalizing them. He urged those who may witness or experience an overdose to not be afraid to contact police.
“Our main goal here is saving lives. If you’ve OD’ed on heroin or whatever, I don’t care. I’m here to save you and to help you. Arresting you for something like that is the last thing on my mind.”