Before Senate Bill 335 went into effect in May, Naloxone, or Narcan as its commonly known, was reserved for the use of emergency medical services personnel. But now, police forces in Monongalia County are working together to complete the training necessary for officers to carry Narcan kits, and help combat the widespread drug epidemic in the state.
“We did an initial training to identify the training needs themselves – how long, how many, who would need to attend the training," said Chief Ed Preston of the Morgantown Police Department. "Now, we’re into the process of doing a train-to-trainer program so we can begin the training down to all the personnel in the field.”
All 65 officers at the Morgantown Police Department are now partnering with officers at the Monongalia County Sheriff's Department, the WVU Police Department and other county police department to complete those training measures.
Upon completion, officers will be certified to carry and administer Narcan, which can temporarily reverse the effects of an opiate-related overdose. Because police may respond to a scene more quickly than EMS, leaders of these departments believe they can save lives by carrying Narcan.
“The faster that the product can be administered into a victim, the greater the chance of counteracting the effects of that drug,” Preston said.
Narcan can be administered intravenously or nasally, but it’s not a cure-all. Patients will still need further medical attention after Narcan is administered at the scene.
“You shouldn’t go out and overdose on drugs and assume there’s some magical tool that’s going to take care of you, but it is a tool that in some cases can help us to get someone to the medical treatment they need,” said Chief Bob Roberts of the WVU Police Department.
Despite these ongoing training measures, finding funding for these Narcan kits could be an issue. Preston said the Morgantown Police Department may need external support to equip officers with Narcan kits.
“We’re already into a budget that we’re operating on," said Preston. "That’s one of the things about municipal budgets. We plan a year out, and as things change, we have to move money, cancel programs that we planned on doing in order to finance other programs. As lean as we’ve been, we don’t have anything we can cut out.”
Roberts said WVU Police has already secured the funding it needs to purchase Narcan for its officers.
Stay with 12 News for more details on this story as it develops.