All Dunwoody police officers have a new tool and training to help heroin overdose victims.
A Virginia-based pharmaceutical company, kaléo, donated 60 naloxone auto-injectors, called Evzio, to the department—every patrol car has one, said Officer Trey Nelson, a spokesman for the department. These kits temporarily block the effect of an opioid, such as heroin and oxycodone.
Sgt. Robert Parsons, of Dunwoody, recently attended a community crisis summit about heroin and opioids at the U.S Attorney’s office in Atlanta, where he learned about the “life-saving” drug, naloxone.
“After seeing an increase in the number of calls for service we receive that involve opioid overdoses, it was clear that we needed to do everything we could to equip our officers with this easy to carry and administer life-saving drug,” Parsons said. “Our officers often arrive at the scene before EMS personnel and can administer this drug when seconds matter.”
Nelson said he doesn’t think Dunwoody has experienced much of a rise in opioid overdose emergencies, but he said remembers arriving first to a medical emergency a year or two ago, where the person had needles lying all around his body.
At the time, Dunwoody didn’t have the naloxone injectors, so Nelson said he waited for the ambulance to arrive. Nelson said he thought the EMS worker gave the man Narcan, a brand of naloxone.
“We get these calls as ‘person down,’” Nelson said.
He said he didn’t know how 911 operators label each call, but in addition to police, county medical services respond.
Opioid overdose can cause a person’s breathing to severely slow down and even stop. Nelson said naloxone is used when a person is unresponsive and has signs of opioid use, such as pinpoint pupils and no response to pain.
“Almost like a comatose state,” Nelson said.
Nelson added that if an officer were to give the naloxone to someone who didn’t need it and who was conscious, the drug wouldn’t hurt or cause any side effects.
The pre-filled, single-use, hand-held, auto-injector reverses the life-threatening slowed breathing and helps the victim regain consciousness. The device uses both voice and visual cues to assist the officer in using it.
Nelson said Dunwoody officers attended training by a Brookhaven officer just before the kits arrived in the mail. Brookhaven police received a donation of naloxone auto-injectors in 2014.
Chief Executive Officer of kaléo T. Spencer Williamson said the company is happy to donate its life-saving product.
“We are pleased to be making this donation as a part of our commitment to widen access to naloxone,” Williamson said. “We are honored to support the outstanding efforts of the first responder community to help save the lives of those who are experiencing an opioid overdose.”