Thanks for saving lives

Published 10:14 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Just a month into a program that put Narcan nasal spray into the vehicles of Suffolk police officers, those officers have saved the lives of at least four people who had overdosed on opiates.

The police department received a $5,000 grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation to purchase 60 two-dose packs of the naloxone medication that immediately reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, which can include breathing problems and loss of consciousness, and can lead to death.

Suffolk rescue crews already have been carrying the drug on their ambulances, but police officers are often the first people on the scene of a suspected overdose, and a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death in those situations.

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The program is a response to the nationwide epidemic of opiate abuse, an epidemic that has cost countless lives around the country and one that has not left Suffolk untouched.

Through October 2016, there had been 21 opioid overdoses and two deaths in Suffolk, Lt. Jesse Epperson, the lieutenant for the special investigations section, said in November. In 2015, the city saw 28 overdoses and four deaths.

Since they began carrying Narcan in their vehicles, Suffolk officers have responded to at least four different overdose incidents and were able to bring the victims back around. That means there are at least three families that did not lose a loved one to heroin or other opiates.

There is much to do before the nation can come out of this addiction hole, and this step technically will not help anyone overcome his opiate addiction. But the lives saved are irreplaceable, and their value is far greater than the victims probably even realize.

Thank you to the Obici Healthcare Foundation and to the Suffolk Police Department for saving these lives.