MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. - Law enforcement officers across Marshall County now have access to training through Marshall Medical Centers to better identify and handle opioid overdoses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States. The CDC reports around 68% of drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid. A recent report claims fentanyl is now the most commonly used drug involved in drug overdoses.
"There's a high probability these days that a police officer will encounter someone that's OD-ing from an opioid or fentanyl," said Guntersville Police Chief Jim Peterson.
His officers are not immune to those calls. Neither is Assistant Director of EMS for Marshall Medical Centers Jacob Babb, who has been a paramedic for about ten years.
"We may have five or six in one day, or we may not have one for a couple, two or three days," Babb said.
He is involved in a program through Marshall Medical Centers that trains law enforcement officers across the county on opioid overdoses.
"Basically what we're teaching them is to identify an overdose, how to treat the patient during that time prior to administration of the medication. Of course we teach them how to administer the medication, and what to do afterwards when they're waiting for EMS to arrive," Babb explained.
The program also supplies officers and their K9s with Narcan, which is designed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and can be used if the officer comes in contact with fentanyl, which can be deadly.
"Already we've had two reports back where police officers have given it in the situation and actually saved lives," Babb said.
Often, law enforcement officers are the first on scene and the first to give aid. The program gives officers more tools and knowledge on how to better handle that life or death situation.