At least one life has been saved by the anti-overdose medication naloxone after almost 150 local law enforcement personnel have undergone training since July.
On Aug. 25, Frederick Police Department Officer Michael McGrew was the first person to arrive at 264 Dill Ave., where a woman had overdosed on heroin shortly before 11 p.m. Since he was not equipped with naloxone, he asked Officer Gregory Santangelo to quickly bring the medication, according to Lt. Dennis Dudley, who is coordinating the police department's naloxone training.
After administering one dose of the medication, the woman began to breathe deeper and blink, Dudley said. Naloxone begins to take effect in two to five minutes but wears off in 20 to 90 minutes, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“She was able to walk to the ambulance and was transported to (Frederick Memorial Hospital) for further treatment,” Dudley said in an email.
Nine people in Frederick County died from heroin overdoses in the first quarter of 2014, according to DHMH data. The number of heroin-related overdose deaths in the county reached an all-time high in 2013 at 21 deaths, the highest single-year total since 2007.
However, the state's initiatives to place naloxone in the hands of law enforcement officers and residents across Maryland may save the lives of those who overdosed on opioid drugs.
Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, reverses the effects of an opioid overdose by quickly restoring a person's breathing and consciousness, countering the sluggishness and lethargy often caused by prescription drugs and heroin, according to DHMH.
About half of the Frederick Police Department's estimated 141 officers have undergone naloxone training, but only 12 carry the medication, Dudley said. The department is working with the Frederick County Health Department to secure a grant that will allow every officer to be equipped with naloxone.
“Our goal is to have everybody" carrying Narcan, Dudley said.
About 80 deputies from the Frederick County Sheriff's Office have received training and are carrying the medication, Maj. Tim Clarke said. The remaining 50 deputies designated to carry Narcan are scheduled to receive training before the end of this month.
Frederick Police Department and Frederick County Sheriff's Office personnel began carrying the medication in July after undergoing a two-hour training held by the county health department. Upon completion, many received state-funded naloxone kits, which contain two doses of the medication. Not all officers carry it, however; the cost is $22 per dose.
Maryland State Police received a $40,000 grant from the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention to train and equip all road patrol troopers by Oct. 1, according to an August DHMH report.
As of Thursday, about 130 troopers had undergone training, said Elena Russo, a state police spokeswoman. Although no state police personnel in Frederick County are trained to administer naloxone or carry the medication, Russo said the agency is working to provide these resources.
About 300 Frederick County residents, including law enforcement personnel, have received naloxone training since the county health department began offering sessions at the end of April, according to Sarah Drennan, the health department's behavioral health services clinical director.
“The feedback we've gotten has been very positive,” she said. “People are able to understand the information and feel comfortable with it.”
While residents who complete training receive a free naloxone kit, the health department is looking into the cost and insurance coverage of the medication so that trainees can get it from local pharmacies, according to Drennan.
“The bottom line is we want to ensure anybody who needs this medication can obtain it,” Drennan said.
Follow Paige Jones on Twitter: @paigeleejones.
If you go
To attend naloxone training with the Frederick County Health Department, call 301-600-3459 to sign up for a training session at 300-B Scholls Lane, Frederick.