Narcan. You probably have not heard of it yet and it will not be long until police agencies across the country add it to their tool belt.
Narcan is the trade name for Naloxone, a nasal form of a drug that “binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, displacing other drugs and reversing the effects.” In other words, it can reverse an overdose on opiates such as oxycodone or hydrocodone. Instantly.
Narcan can effectively save us from ourselves, or at least it can save those who are overdosing on heroin.
Police officers in Quincy, a Boston suburb, started carrying Narcan back in 2010. According to Lt. Det. Patrick Glynn, Quincy officers have “administered the drug 221 times and reversed 211 overdoses.”
There is an increase in the amount of overdoses related to opiates and agencies like Quincy are thinking outside the box to combat this phenomenon. After all, the officers are usually the first responders over the paramedics so it is smart to arm them with a tool that will help.
This sounds wonderful yet I am left thinking about the legalities. Call me a skeptic, but I cannot help but wonder about the legal hurdles or issues this raises.
What if the person wanted to overdose? What if an officer fails to use Narcan when they could have? What if the Narcan makes the situation worse? What if someone has an allergic reaction?
These are all situations where, unfortunately, a person could sue the agency for the aftermath. I am not saying the person would have a valid case or that they would win, however, both sides would have to spend resources to deal with the suit. Quincy officers have had approximately three years to create the rules and set up protocol to deal with these situations and I am assuming they have been successful.
The bottom line is that I believe officers carrying Narcan is a smart move. Officers should not have to save us from ourselves but the reality is that they do, sometimes. I just hope an agency really thinks it through, creates adequate rules and procedures for its use and works with their legislatures to make sure the agency is protected legally speaking.
I give credit to Quincy for being proactive and thinking outside the box. It is something more agencies should do.
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