Following the arrest on Wednesday of a Stamford man who was charged with Manslaughter 1 for a July 2017 overdose death of a Greenwich man, police shared information on their multi-pronged approach to tackling the opioid epidemic.
In addition to connecting users to addiction services, charging people for manufacturing and distributing drugs, and educating residents, Narcan will soon be issued to patrol officers.
GEMS has been carrying the opiate overdose antidote on its ambulances for about 25 years, but until now Greenwich Police did not equip officers with Narcan because they typically arrive within just within minutes of a GEMS ambulance.
“Those couple minutes could matter a great deal,” said Lt Slusarz during the Thursday press briefing. “We see this with CPR and defibrillators – we see an increases survival rate.”
Slusarz said the chance of saving a life is worth the inconvenience of officers having to sign out the medication and checking it back in at the end of a shift. At the beginning of a shift, officers are already checking out patrol rifles and Tasers, which they return at the end of their shift.
“Later this month we will roll out Narcan with our police officers who will have it in their patrol cars,” Lt Slusarz said, adding that officers are being trained about how to administer Narcan appropriately and keep it at a consistent temperature.
Narcan, which is sensitive to light and heat, must be kept in in temperatures from 57° to almost 90°. Officers will carry two doses 4 mg nasal spray doses.
“The officers can’t leave it in a car during summer,” Slusarz said. “They have to carry it into the police station. We want to make sure the medication remains viable so that when we use it, it works.”
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“Our response time with an ambulance is pretty quick,” he said. “It’s for the situation when we get there first and someone is down and we recognize the symptoms of an overdose and increase the person’s survivability.”
Police are also working on diversionary programs in conjunction with Greenwich Hospital and other support agencies, so that when they identify people in crisis they can steer them or their families to some services, help and support.
“Often we see people at their wit’s end and they come to us,” Slusarz said. “We can steer them to these programs.”