Calif. sheriff's department to train on naloxone
Deputies will carry naloxone in nasal spray form; AMR also hopes to expand training to EMTs
By Amber Sandhu
Redding Record Searchlight
SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — The Shasta County Sheriff's Department may soon begin carrying Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, which could potentially help save lives and temporarily relieve hospitals that deal with drug overdose cases.
Shasta County Undersheriff Eric Magrini said training on the drug is anticipated later this month by NoRxAbuse, a local coalition that works to address the opioid epidemic in Shasta County.
"It's a wake-up call and reality check," Magrini said about the growing epidemic.
According to data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, in Shasta County, the number of opioid related hospitalizations in 2011 was 390 and has been rising ever since. In 2012, there were 548 hospitalizations, and in 2013, there were 631.
Across California, deputies in Kern, San Diego and Orange county sheriff's departments have already begun carrying the drug in nasal spray form.
Magrini said the Shasta County Sheriff's Office has a policy in place for the administration of Naloxone, and deputies will undergo training and carry the drug in their first aid kits, which will be checked at the beginning and end of each of the shifts.
"I think it's positive, I'm excited," Magrini said. "Anything you can do to help someone and save a life."
Because of how rural Shasta County is, Magrini said deputies would have to manage how they respond to calls about overdoses and prioritize them according to severity and proximity. And once training is complete, deputies in areas such as Igo, Ono and Burney will have access to the drug.
Once deputies come across someone who has overdosed, a trained deputy would administer the Naloxone nasal spray medication and wait until medical staff arrives for further assessment.
Mark Belden, operations manager with American Medical Response, a medical transportation company, said for the past two years in the county, the company's paramedics have seen an increase in Naloxone administration because of the increasing number of overdose cases they've come across.
But the benefit of the drug is that it's safe to administer and has decreased side effects, he said. However, administering the drug too quickly intravenously can cause a patient to "wake up violently" and can give the patient withdrawal effects such as vomiting.
Belden said only paramedics administer Naloxone intravenously and nasally, but AMR hopes to expand nasal Naloxone administration training to emergency medical technicians as well.
NoRxAbuse secured a $60,000 grant through the California Healthcare Foundation, said coalition president Ivan Petrzelka. The plan is to use a portion of the funds to train deputies how to use Naloxone and to expand training to fire and police departments.
But whether that's going to be accepted remains to be seen.
Redding Fire Chief Gerry Gray said there's been some informal conversation about carrying Naloxone. And although it seems like a great idea, he doesn't see it happening because the local ambulance response time is around a minute or two after firefighters arrive at the scene, Grey said.
"It's not long after we arrive on scene that they can administer that (Naloxone)," Gray said. "Right now, we don't have any immediate plans on deploying the Naloxone."
Redding Police Department Captain Roger Moore said when the department receives a medical call, it's not uncommon to find medical personnel arrive before police do. And at this point, Moore said the Police Department doesn't plan to train officers how to administer Naloxone.
"We like to leave the medical problems to the medical personnel," he said.
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