LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — Anne Arundel County police officers will soon begin carrying “Narcan,” a drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, the department announced Monday.
Officials say they began noticing a rise in heroin overdoses during the summer of 2013 in southern areas of Anne Arundel County such as Annapolis, Parole and Edgewater. The majority of the overdoses were occurring in public places such as malls and shopping centers, according to investigators.
So far this year, about 85 people in the county have overdosed on heroin, and 12 of those were fatal.
In many cases, police officers are the first responders on the scene of an overdose and every second counts, officials say. With this in mind, Chief Kevin Davis decided to institute the use of “Narcan,” or “Naloxone,” a potentially life-saving drug that can prevent and reverse negative effects of opioids, like respiratory depression, sedation and hypotension.
Anne Arundel County officers are currently being trained by members of the county’s fire department on how to administer the drug via a nasal spray.
“The heroin problem that exists is not isolated to Anne Arundel County, and this is not an issue that law enforcement can arrest their way out of,” said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis.
“A holistic approach, involving education, treatment and enforcement is needed to tackle this disease. One of the major tenets of law enforcement is to protect lives and I believe that outfitting officers with ‘Narcan’ is an invaluable tool in the effort to save people from losing their battles with substance abuse.”
The initiative is part of “Operation H.O.P.E.” (Heroin Overdose Prevention and Eradication), a program that helps identify, disrupt and target the operations of heroin dealers in the county.