MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. - January 2020 marks one year since the Marshall Medical Centers trained area police officers on opioid and fentanyl overdoses. Paramedics also taught the officers more about the potentially life-saving drug, Narcan.
Training Officer Nick Guttery told WHNT News 19 that opiate overdoses in Marshall County have nearly doubled since this time last year, going from 43 to 83.
“We have seen a huge increase in overdoses this year,” said Guttery.
With the increase in numbers, it’s a good thing several Marshall County police departments went through special training on how to handle them.
“Like other overdoses, you may have slow breathing or no breathing at all. Opiate overdoses may have constricted pupils as compared to benzos which have larger pupils,” said Guttery.
Officers were also given Narcan to treat patients or themselves if they come into contact with fentanyl.
“It can be absorbed into your skin and get in through absorption. It’s just something officers and paramedics alike have to be mindful of doing their job,” said Albertville Police Chief Jamie Smith.
Smith said they have only had to use the Narcan to save overdose patients a few times this year and zero times on the officers themselves.
Each Narcan packet comes with a report back form.
“This one was a female patient unresponsive, not breathing at all. They did give two milligrams of Narcan. They had a response in less than a minute, and they were able to do rescue breathing until Narcan kicked in,” read Guttery from a report back form returned from Albertville.
Guttery and Chief Smith told WHNT News 19 they believe the training was a success.
“If it’s one of those that's either an accidental exposure, intentional or unintentional, we’ve got a duty to do what we can do to stop it or prevent it until help can get there,” said Smith.
“We have had some officers save lives, give somebody’s mom, dad, brother or sister a second chance. I think doing the program in and of itself was a success, that way we provide the officers, the people who protect us, protection for themselves against these drugs,” added Guttery.
Narcan is a liquid that turns into a nasal spray that when used, and targets and blocks the opiate receptors in the brain to stop the opiate from working.
Albertville, Guntersville, Boaz, and Arab police departments all received the training last year.
Guttery said he is currently working to train officers at Douglas Police Department and the Marshall County Sheriff's Office.