Opiate addiction and overdoses are at epidemic levels, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, so Nampa Police Department is confronting the issue head-on.
Starting Nov. 2, trained NPD officers started carrying naloxone, a life-saving drug that can stop an overdose as it’s happening. By Dec. 3, NPD anticipates most of its officers will be trained to use the drug, according to an NPD press release.
“We are hearing more and more about an increase in heroin and opioid pill use nationally. This is also a trend that we are seeing locally, as our narcotics unit is identifying a greater availability of this drug in the area,” said Lt. Eric Skoglund in a statement. “(Opioids) can be very dangerous because users are not aware of the potency of certain types of opiates.”
According to the release, police officers are often the first to arrive to an emergency scene, and can often provide life-saving services before paramedics arrive.
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Police aren’t the only ones who can carry and administer naloxone. In fact, friends and family members of opiate users, and even laypeople, can legally carry naloxone after a new state law took effect. About 2,300 Idahoans died from opiate overdoses between 1999 and 2014, so local agencies are trying to figure out immediate polcies they can put into effect to save lives.
Kari Peterson, the medical director for Treasure Valley emergency services, is operating training for Nampa officers, according to the release.
“We know from national trends, that the incidents of opioid overdoses are on the rise,” she said in a statement. “It has been great to work with such a progressive agency as the Nampa Police Department which has taken proactive steps to protect the citizens of Nampa as well as police officers.”