PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR OR ACTIVITY
Deaths resulting from heroin overdoses within the State of Oregon increased substantially in the years 2003-2012. The number of deaths in Jackson County specifically increased from 19 to 27 between 2011 and 2012, while seizures of heroin by Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement increased from 2,935 grams in 2011 to 24,538 grams in 2012. As a nation, the US represents 4.6% of the world’s population but consumes 80% of the world’s opioid (narcotic) supply. In the years 1999-2011, deaths resulting from unintentional drug poisoning involving opioid analgesics have increased by 28% and those involving heroin have increased by 119%, while those involving cocaine have decreased by 35%.
IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
Increased drug abuse in Jackson County has resulted in expanded sales of controlled substances, along with an increase in the number of deaths from overdoses and increased admissions into treatment centers.
Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication (narcotics), including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness. Naloxone is used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation. Medford Police, in conjunction with Medford Fire Department, initiated a Naloxone Deployment program whereby patrol officers are trained to use and deploy Naloxone in appropriate situations. As patrol units are typically the first to arrive on the scene of an opiate overdose, they can take direct lifesaving measures in the precious first minutes after an overdose, without having to wait for medical personnel. Naloxone is now stored in patrol vehicles and issued to investigators. Officers receive a brief training and are then qualified to deploy the medication. The drug user must still receive immediate medical treatment.
BASED ON RESEARCH
Other departments and agencies nationwide have implemented similar naloxone deployment programs, and they have witnessed positive results. The Bureau of Justice Assistance has also released a toolkit for law enforcement.
Naloxone costs between $50 and $60 per dose. Reimbursement may be available from HIDTA, and there has been talk of reimbursement/subsidy from the Oregon Attorney General’s Office.
By February 2015 the department was fully trained in the deployment of naloxone. The first deployment occurred on March 9, 2015. Since the program was initiated, Medford Police have deployed a total of 9 doses of naloxone, with 8 of those 9 having the desired effect of reversing the overdose.
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS
Training and implementation. It has been made a priority program by the administration and the fact that the officers are able to directly impact the medical well-being of a victim has been a great success.
Find a physician willing to oversee the program early in the process, so they can assist in developing the program. The physician will want to approve various aspects of the program since they will ultimately be signing off on the program.
Get your local fire department on board; they can assist in training and ordering of the naloxone.