Police & Fire embrace DA’s Narcan initiative

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DA Michael Morrissey (center) addresses first responders at a Narcan training last week in Canton. Also pictured are (l-r) Stoughton PD sergeants Donna McNamara and Brian Holmes, Dr. Dan Muse, Quincy PD Lt. Pat Glynn, and pharmacist Dave Morgan.

DA Michael Morrissey (center) addresses first responders at a Narcan training last week in Canton. Also pictured are (l-r) Stoughton PD sergeants Donna McNamara and Brian Holmes, Dr. Dan Muse, Quincy PD Lt. Pat Glynn, and pharmacist Dave Morgan.

Last Wednesday, March 26, members of the Canton Police Department joined police and fire personnel from across Norfolk County at a training session on the administration of naloxone, or Narcan, an opiate overdose reversal drug that has saved the lives of thousands of overdose victims.

More than 80 first responders took part in the training session, which was hosted by District Attorney Michael Morrissey at the Blue Hill Country Club in Canton. Presenters included Dr. Dan Muse of Canton, an emergency room doctor at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, Quincy Police Lt. Pat Glynn, and Stoughton Police sergeants Donna McNamara and Brian Holmes along with five firefighter/paramedics from the Canton Fire Department. Canton Deputy Police Chief Helena Rafferty and Police Sgt. Chuck Rae both attended the session.

Nearly every department in the county has now received training on the use of Narcan, and Morrissey bought and divided 300 doses among the police and fire departments to jumpstart their programs.

“There is not a single community in Norfolk County untouched by the opiate addiction epidemic that caused 61 confirmed fatal overdoses in our county last year,” said Morrissey. “The Quincy Police Department reversed more than 225 overdoses since it became the first department in the country to equip every cruiser with Narcan. Now every department is going to have this capacity. It can only save lives.”

It turns out that all of the Canton firefighters and paramedics had already been trained and have been using Narcan to treat overdoses for the past two years. Fire Chief Charles Doody is a firm believer in the program but says it does nothing to cure the root of the problem — addiction.

“There is a great deal more that we are doing to prevent addiction from ever beginning, with prescription drug collection, education in schools, community coalitions and enforcement,” Morrissey said. “But we need to be working on this problem at every stage — from preventing young people taking the first opiate pill that opens the door to later addiction to saving the lives of those who are overdosing so they can find treatment and hopefully find their way back to the kind of life we would wish for them.”

Doody said Canton firefighters and paramedics used Narcan in 30 instances in 2013 and 22 instances already this year. Originally administered intravenously, the medication is now available in a nasal spray, which makes it easier for first responders to deliver. “It has shown to be very effective in saving lives,” said Doody.

The fire chief said the drug neutralizes the effect of the opiate very quickly — in some cases almost instantly. Doody said the Fire Department already has an arrangement with Norwood Hospital for Narcan refills.

Doody said while Narcan is without a doubt a lifesaving drug, it is not a solution to the growing epidemic of heroin addiction. “And that’s the bigger problem and challenge,” he said.

He added that it makes sense for the Police Department to administer Narcan since officers are the first to arrive on a scene. “A few minutes can make a big difference,” he said.

Canton Police Chief Ken Berkowitz said he is unsure how the program will be implemented within the department and he plans to rely on the knowledge of Chief Doody and the CFD to help train more police officers and develop a more integrated program. Berkowitz said he is “for anything that gives officers a chance to save lives.”

Doody, along with Berkowitz and School Superintendent Jeff Granatino, formed the Canton Substance Abuse Coalition this past fall. The coalition’s goal, according to Doody, is to find alternatives for local youths so that they stop using drugs.

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avatar Posted by on Apr 3 2014. Filed under News, Police & Fire.
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