Pitt County deputies to carry overdose-reversing drug
Posted April 30, 2014
Greenville, N.C. — The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office is aiming to curb fatal opiate overdoses by requiring all of its deputies to carry Narcan, a life-saving prescription drug.
Deputies will launch the program – the first of its kind in the state – in a news conference Thursday at 10 a.m. at Bell Arthur EMS, at 4666 Stantonsburg Road, Greenville.
Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, temporarily reverses overdoses of opiates, such as heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine.
Prescription opiate painkillers cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined, but both prescription opiate and heroin use are on the rise in North Carolina. Deaths from overdoses in the state have increased 300 percent in the last 15 years, according to state statistics.
The program puts the drug in the hands of deputies, who often arrive first to the scene of medical emergencies, before emergency medical responders.
Narcan allows time for more advanced medical treatment as it counteracts the effects of the overdose.
The program is modeled after similar initiatives in Ohio and Massachusetts.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed “good Samaritan” legislation last year protecting bystanders who call for help or administer Narcan during an opiate overdose.
Under the law, doctors can also prescribe Narcan by standing order to anyone at risk of opiate overdose, as well as that person’s family and friends.
Last year, the Orange County Health Department was the first medical agency in the state to issue a standing order for Narcan, which screened patients for opiate use and trained them to administer the drug.