Grand Island fire and police departments using Narcan to help prevent opioid overdoses
Access to one medication could be the difference between life and death.
Narcan is an emergency treatment that health officials say blocks or reverses the effect of an opioid.
"We've carried Narcan for years. The entire time I've been here for 25 years and I'm sure they've had it before that," said Chief of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division Russ Blackburn for the Grand Island Fire Department.
Blackburn said it could make a difference in saving a person’s life.
"We carry it in the EMS world as an injectable liquid and then that same liquid is used in a nasal spray form," Blackburn said.
As the opioid epidemic hits parts of the nation hard, police officers in Grand Island are now being equipped with Narcan.
"We just got Narcan kits about three weeksago. We got a grant for some that are free through a regional type of situation. We have about two dozen of them. We have put them out in some of our patrol cars. We do have some out with our drug investigators and criminal investigators," said Captain Dean Elliot of the Grand Island Police Department.
However, right now officers at GIPD have not yet been trained to administer the medication on others.
They have it on hand so if they themselves were to come in contact with a drug during a call, they have the proper medication to treat themselves.
If a subject were to need the medication, they would then call the Grand Island Fire Department, which always has it on hand.
"If he's looking or searching a vehicle and comes across a powder or some other type of drugs and if he doesn't have the right type of gloves, it can actually be absorbed into the skin,” Elliot said.
Blackburn said carfentanil is what they see causes the most overdoses.
"It was never meant for humans, it was developed as large animal tranquilizer. It’s like ten thousand times stronger than normal morphine. So when this gets mixed in with street drugs they're way more likely to overdose because it will take a lot less of what they're used to using to get into that overdose state," Blackburn said.