UPDATE: WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) – More than 50 people died in Winnebago County last year from heroin overdoses. It’s a drug that’s quickly grown into an epidemic across the country.
Sergeant Brian Harrison’s belt holds all of the police essentials – handcuffs, pepper spray, a gun. However, one unconventional tool is being added to all county deputies’ arsenal – Naloxone – to counteract the effects of heroin.
Also known as Narcan, the antidote is a fast acting drug that temporarily blocks the effects of opiates for about 90 minutes. Winnebago County Deputies will have the drug in their cars in case they’re first to the scene of an overdose.
“If you look at the county when you move to the west side, there are less firefighters and police officers per square mile so the chances of us being first in on first aid calls is much greater. We can start that Narcan or that therapy that would allow these people to breathe correctly much sooner,” said Director of Emergency Operations Jerry Wilftang.
According to the Winnebago County Coroner, out of the 124 overdoses in the county last year, 51 were heroin related. Deputies and other Stateline officer are being taught how to use the drug by OSF St. Anthony staff.
The cost of each overdose kit is about $50 and they are being paid for by seized drug money. Narcan has no effect on people who do not have an opiate in their system.
Rockford police say they have no plans of carrying Narcan in their cars because they typically aren’t the first one to a scene. However, firefighters and paramedics in the area are already equipped with the antidote.
WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) -- Nearly 30 people have died from an overdose so far this year in the Stateline and now the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department hopes to help save more lives by carrying a new medication while on patrols.
Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers says he knows heroin overdoses are an overwhelming problem in the area and believes allowing officers to give a drug will save not only time waiting for an ambulance, but lives as well.
More than 100 people died from a drug overdose last year. Sheriff Meyers says officers will carry two syringes of Narcan, a medication that stops the effects of an overdose. Officers will give the drug by spraying it into a person’s nose.
"Keep people alive and get them to the hospital that's what this is all about. They still need to go, they still need to go to the hospital they still need that emergency treatment but this going to improve their chances greatly,” Sheriff Meyers said.
Deputies will begin medical training on Monday. Meyers says surrounding police departments will be joining, including South Beloit, Rockton and Cherry Valley police.
Rockford Police says they won’t have officers carry Narcan because the city’s paramedics and fire department arrive quickly and already carry it.