Headline: JCSO awarded grant to equip deputies with Narcan kits

Byline: By Shakari Briggs The Pine Bluff Commercial

Since November, deputies with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office have been trained to use Naloxone Hydrochloride commonly known as Narcan—- a drug used by law enforcement agencies to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Sheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr. says earlier this year, the office was awarded a grant through the University of Arkansas System’s Criminal Justice Institute via the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas.

“Our agency was eligible to receive an award of 100 Narcan kits of which 54 will be immediately distributed,” said Woods. “There has been no immediate funding source identified to cover the cost of restocking Narcan kits. However, CJI is working with the Arkansas Drug Directors Office to identify a funding source for restocking used Narcan kits.”

Narcan is the first and only Food Drug and Administration-approved nasal spray of Naloxone used for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose, per its website. In order for deputies to administer the drug, they were required to take a two-hour Naloxone administration course. The course trained deputies on the “ability to increase awareness of opioid use and deaths” and the “ability to properly administer pre-hospital intranasal Naloxone.”

“To date, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has not experienced an overdose-related call,” said Woods. “However, in the event our deputies are dispatched to such a call, they will be well-prepared and have the necessary tools i.e. Narcan to effectively save a life.”

This is the first time the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will have access to the life-saving drug, says Woods.

“With the increasing drug-related calls and concerns for the safety of law enforcement, our agency and others alike began exploring funding sources to begin carrying Narcan,” he said. “Moreover, there was also the concern for the potential immediate threat for our personnel being exposed to fentanyl, which can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through skin and eyes since even a small amount can lead to death. In instances such as these, Narcan can be administered to both deputies and sheriff K-9’s, who have been exposed to an overdose during the course of their duty.”

In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported 446 drug overdose deaths compared to 70, 237 across the United States with more than 46, 000 being linked to opioids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the age-adjusted rate of drug-overdose deaths increased significantly from 2013 (11.1 per 100,000) to 2017 (15.5 per 100,000) in Arkansas. However, research didn’t show an increase in 2018.

“It is important for our agency to have access to Narcan and be in a position to administer it when needed, because when saving a life, seconds count,” said Woods. “The potential for exposure to Fentanyl and encountering an overdose victim is very real. We want to ensure our staff is not only ready to respond, but also ready to act at a moment’s notice.”