On Thursday morning, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office became the first lawn enforcement agency in Carroll to begin training its patrol officers to carry and administer naloxone, an antidote to opioid drug overdose. It's a move that spokesman Cpl. Jon Light said is designed to save lives.
"I believe that this program is something that will help the community at large," Light said. "While in many situations emergency medical service will get there first or soon after the arrival of a deputy, the idea is we want to make sure that whoever responds first has this available."
Naloxone — brand name Narcan — blocks the actions of opioid drugs in the brain and can be administered as a nasal spray. Light said deputies will be trained in the identification of opioid overdoses and how to administer the spray over the next several weeks. After the officers are certified by the Carroll County Health Department, Light said that deputies will begin carrying a single dose each of naloxone as part of their standard equipment.
"Hopefully it will be within the next few weeks or two we will begin to have the first steps out on the street with it; that would be my hope," Light said. "The initial focus will be on patrol deputies, in the area of 70 deputies, but then certainly the remainder of the sworn staff will eventually follow suit. Once you get into the rest of the sworn, the total number is right around 115."
The sheriff's office training is part of a statewide push to train non-medical personnel in the use of nasally administered naloxone, a part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in Maryland after Gov. Martin O'Malley announced the formation of a state-level Overdose Prevention Council June 27.
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The Carroll County Health Department has been training civilians, parents, friends and family of drug users — and users themselves — in the administration of naloxone since April. According to Dawn Brown, director of quality assurance and prevention at the Health Department, the sheriff's office training is an extension of that effort.
"The medical supervisor for the program is our deputy health officer, Dr. Henry Taylor, and he provides the supervision for all of our [naloxone] trainers," Brown said. "It's encouraging to see organizations taking a look at this and how can this become part of their practice."
Although the sheriff's office is the only county law enforcement agency currently training in the use of naloxone, other agencies are actively pursuing training their own officers.
Sgt. Shawn Kilgore, of the Sykesville Police Department, said his department has discussed the possibility of a training in September, but that nothing has been decided as of yet.
The Maryland State Police, meanwhile, launched three pilot naloxone programs of their own Friday, initiating training for state troopers in Allegheny, Cecil and Somerset counties, according to Maj. James Pyles, commander of the northern region of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. The program is expected to expand in the fall with troopers at the Westminster barrack starting training Oct. 1.
"We anticipate a huge success in saving lives [and] therefore we will eventually have all our troopers in the field service bureau — our first responders — trained and equipped with narcan," Pyles said. "In the end, we will have approximately 140 troopers trained."
Reach staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.