On Jan. 13, a press release went out from the Carrboro Police Department announcing that an officer had become the first in the department to administer naloxone, an opiate antagonist, to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. The overdose had occurred the previous night. What the police department might not have known was that the Carrboro officer was the first law enforcement agent in the state to reverse an overdose with Naloxone.
The Durham-based North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a leader in the campaign to save the lives of opiate abusers, today announced that Jan. 12 was "an historic night," and that the Carrboro officer saved the user's life.
In response to a rising number of fatal opiate overdoses, an increasing number of policing agencies across the country have armed officers with Naloxone kits and trained them for overdose situations. Carrboro is one of six law enforcement agencies in North Carolina that currently carry naloxone, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition. The others are Pitt County Sheriff, Greenville Police Department, State Bureau of Investigations, Cramerton Police Department, and Alcohol Law Enforcement.
Officers with the Carrboro Police Department were trained on naloxone use last April through a joint effort between the Orange County Health Department, Orange County EMS and Harm Reduction Coalition. Their program launched officially in October.
Just after 8 p.m. on Jan. 12, the Carrboro officer was dispatched to an apartment complex on Old Fayetteville Road, where a man in his early 30s had overdosed on heroin. When the man did not respond to a sternum rub, the officer assembled a Naloxone kit and squirted half the liquid up one nostril. EMS arrived soon after and administered the rest of the dose up the second nostril. The man woke up in the ambulance a few minutes later and was discharged from the hospital later that night in good health.
“It’s a paradigm shift for officers to respond to a drug overdose with Naloxone,” said Chris Atack, a Carrboro police spokesman, in a statement. “But I spoke with some officers after the initial training and they are ready to do the right thing.”
The victim is doing well, Atack said.