30 more Phoenix police officers trained to use Narcan in opioid overdoses

Jul 22, 2019, 4:25 AM

Narcan nasal thread is used by first responders to treat individuals who have overdosed on opioids....

Narcan nasal thread is used by first responders to treat individuals who have overdosed on opioids. San Luis police Lt. Marco Santana said he used this spray recently to treat a high school student. (Photo by Meg Potter/Cronkite News)

(Photo by Meg Potter/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — The Police Department is training more first-responders to use a nasal spray that can counter the effects of an opioid overdose, and it hopes to have nearly half of the force’s sworn officers trained by the end of next month.

Although Narcan – a nasal-spray form of naloxone – is used by other Valley police departments, Phoenix has not widely trained its officers or distributed the medicine. Cronkite News reported that as of April, only 100 officers – out of a sworn force of 2,900 – had these kits.

But the department recently trained about 30 more officers at its Maryvale precinct, and it plans to expand training through August with the goal of preparing about 1,200 patrol officers, spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson said in an email. The department recently received a grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services for 1,800 units of Narcan, allowing for a wider rollout across the city.

“Right now, we are in the process of providing training and certification to our first-responding officers,” Thompson said after a recent training. “By that I mean the officers who are on patrol, who are the ones out on the street if a call comes down on an individual who might have overdosed or might have experienced a drug-related issue that we believe is opioid or opiate related.”

In 2017, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency after Arizona opioid deaths skyrocketed. State officials have logged more than 3,220 suspected opioid deaths from June 2017 to July 11, 2019, according to the state health department.

As part of the emergency declaration, Ducey issued a standing order urging all first-responders to learn how to administer naloxone. Officers at several metro Phoenix police departments, including Avondale, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Scottsdale and Surprise, have access to Narcan and can administer the drug.

State data shows that nearly 15,000 doses of naloxone have been administered since June 2017.

But Phoenix had limited its opioid-reduction program to specialized divisions, including drug enforcement, K-9, bomb squad, transit and airport bureaus.

Thompson said 1,800 units of Narcan cost roughly $150,000.

“We are the largest law enforcement agency in the state, and we are grateful for that grant,” he said.

“Opiates are naturals, such as heroin or morphine. Opioids are the commercial, synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl or oxycodone,” Thompson added. “Those are the things we see right now in our community. We know that we have a problem with opioid use and abuse.”

Last week, trainers showed officers in the Maryvale precinct how Narcan works. Each officer will carry two cartridges, each holding 4 milligrams of Narcan.

The 1,800 units have an expiration date of 2020, but Thompson isn’t certain how long that supply will last.

“We don’t know how fast we will use it. Certainly we want to be able to use them. We think that we will have extras to give to our people as they use the ones they have to replenish the ones that the individual officers have. That’s what we are looking for,” he said.

Firefighters and EMTs still are considered the primary first-responders. But as police officers at the scene wait, they’ll refer to a procedure card carried by each officer to decide whether to use Narcan.

“If the algorithm says that we need to administer the naloxone, we will do so,” Thompson said. “We give them the first dosage, and after three to four minutes if that’s not working and the Fire Department has not arrived, then we give them the second. It’s not just naloxone. It’s providing first aid that is necessary for those individuals.”

“On the back of the card, it shows the indications of a person suffering from an overdose,” police Sgt. David Jordan said. “That gives the officers an idea of what they are looking for, and then they flip to the opposite side, and it has the algorithm on it once they determine the person is dealing with an overdose.”

After the officers have used both doses of naloxone, Jordan said, they will perform CPR until the firefighters arrive.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Cronkite News

The annual Strategic School Staffing Summit, run by Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teac...

Analisa Valdez/Cronkite News

Arizona public schools struggle to fill teaching positions as leaders brainstorm school staffing solutions

Public school educators say they are some of the most underpaid and overworked laborers, and many are quitting or leaving the profession.

1 day ago

U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, backed by fellow Democrats, speaks at in Washington, D....

Ian McKinney/Cronkite News

As immigration debate heats up, December migrant encounters set record

Border officials said they encountered more than 300,000 migrants at the southern border in December, setting a one-month record.

22 days ago

The 51st March for Life begins to move from a rally and speeches on the National Mall to its annual...

Ian McKinney/Cronkite News

Roe is gone, but Arizonans still join abortion opponents marching in D.C.

For Tucson resident Jacob Mauer, joining the National March for Life in Washington was a “bucket-list moment."

1 month ago

Dominican immigrant Rosa Flores at the Disnalda Beauty Salon she bought in Providence, Rhode Island...

Tim Henderson/Stateline

Arizona among states where Hispanic families are surging into middle class

The Hispanic middle class has grown faster than the white middle class in the past decade and has reached near-parity in Arizona.

2 months ago

Live & Learn AZ, a nonprofit organization founded in 2012, aims to empower women in the Phoenix met...

Oakley Seiter/Cronkite News

Maricopa County uses part of national opioid settlement for group that helps recovering women

Live and Learn AZ, a nonprofit organization that supports women, received $60,000, as part of a national opioid settlement.

2 months ago

Multiple Arizona sycamore trees are wrapped in burlap at Montezuma Castle National Monument. (Photo...

Zach Bradshaw/Cronkite News

Montezuma Castle among Arizona national park sites combating vandalism

National park vandalism isn’t just a problem at Montezuma Castle – it’s been an issue many Arizona national park sites have dealt with.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

30 more Phoenix police officers trained to use Narcan in opioid overdoses