DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. – Thanks local partnerships, Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies are prepared to intervene in the event of a medical emergency caused from an opioid overdose.

The deputies have recently been trained in the use of Naloxone, more commonly referred to as Narcan, a drug which can reverse the life threatening symptoms caused by an overdose of an opioid, such as heroin.

“When a person overdoses on an opioid, their breathing can begin to slow down or even stop.”, said Sgt. Brad O’Dell of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “Naloxone blocks the effects of the drug and can reverse the symptoms until medical personnel can evaluate the individual,” he said.

O’Dell believes the accessibility of the Naloxone is a significant benefit to the community. “At times our deputies are in a position to respond to an opioid overdose emergency before medical personnel may be able to arrive. If the deputy can intervene in the emergency until EMS can arrive, the potential for that person to survive is increased.”

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the HIV Alliance and Douglas Public Health Network to receive 50 doses of Naloxone. The doses of Naloxone have been placed in every Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle and some unmarked vehicles.

Renee Yandel, Executive Director of the HIV Alliance said of the partnership, “Law enforcement is an important partner in tackling the opioid issues we are seeing in Oregon.  Despite the multitude of issues these deputies face on a daily basis to keep us safe, they were willing to do even more.   It is a real testament to their commitment to public safety for everyone in the community.  Their deputies will now be able to reverse overdose, save lives and give community members the opportunity to get the services they need.  When people access drug treatment they reduce their HIV risk, which is something we all want.”

Christin Rutledge, Prescription Drug Overdose Coordinator for Douglas County at the Douglas Public Health Network, said that “funding for the Naloxone program comes from a legal settlement between the Oregon Attorney General and the pharmaceutical company, Insys, over unlawful promotion of the powerful opioid Subsys. The current funding is a SAMSHA-State Target Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant (Opioid STR). Douglas County is part of one of the 6 regions in the state that was awarded Opioid STR funding based on a number of factors, including the number of opioid related overdoses and deaths and the opioid prescribing rate. We are very thankful for the partnership between law enforcement, the HIV Alliance, DPHN, and many other agencies in our community who are dedicated to reducing opioid related harms for our citizens”.