It is well documented that heroin use in the Madison area has skyrocketed over the past few years. Madison Police officers respond to heroin and other opiate related overdoses and deaths on a frequent basis. First responders are aware that heroin depresses the central nervous system. This can cause the heart rate to slow, and blood pressure to drop. Respiratory functions can also be impaired, and sometimes users stop breathing.
The drug naloxone and its brand name variant Narcan, can almost immediately revive a person suffering a heroin or morphine overdose by attaching itself to receptors in the brain by blocking opioids. Many lives have been saved in our community due to the work of Madison Fire personnel who respond to overdose cases equipped to treat patients in these cases. Police officers respond to these calls as well. Although cardiocerebral resuscitation (CCR) is often performed while awaiting Fire/Rescue personnel, police otherwise have no more advanced life saving options. This has now changed.
In April of this year, the Governor signed legislation known as the HOPE Agenda. HOPE, which stands for Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education, is a series of bills aimed at fighting the growing heroin and prescription drug epidemic in our State. Assembly Bill 446 now provides trained police officers the ability to administer naloxone to counter the effects of opiate overdose.
With the passage of this legislation, the Madison PD has embarked on a campaign to train all sergeants in the administration of naloxone. With the assistance of MPD Medical Director, Dr. Ashley Anderson, a Department protocol and training program were established. When used in the field, naloxone will be administered nasally in strict accordance with training guidelines. The drug is absorbed through the mucus membrane and reverses the effects of an overdose. An ambulance will be requested for any person who has received naloxone from a Madison Police Officer, if not already dispatched.
By early December 2014, all sergeants will be trained and equipped to more adequately respond to and potentially engage in this additional life saving measure.
This post was authored by Captain Tom Snyder