As drug overdose deaths increase, law enforcement carrying life-saving medicine

Huntsville Police recently started carrying Narcan. So far, they've administered it at least a dozen times.

Posted: Oct 27, 2021 10:19 PM
Updated: Oct 28, 2021 2:38 PM

A few months ago, Huntsville Police started carrying Narcan with them at all times. Since then, WAAY 31 has learned, they've already had to administer it at least a dozen times. 

The medication is used to reverse the effects of a narcotics overdose, and using it can mean the difference between life and death.

"Unfortunately, that is a very tragic incident that is taking place right then and there," Huntsville Police Sgt. Karl Kissich said when referring to this video out of Birmingham. The video shows a deputy using Narcan to save a 1-year-old from a drug overdose.

"Thankfully, those deputies were equipped with the Narcan to get the ball rolling in the right direction," Kissich said. 

Thanks to its partnership with Huntsville Emergency Medical Serivces and the Alabama Department of Public Health, Huntsville Police started carrying Narcan in the spring. Now, at least 30 officers are carrying the life-saving drug with them at all times. 

That includes field training officers, DUI task force officers and members of the North Alabama Task Force.

"These are, many times, the very first (officers responding) to so many of these drug overdoses," Kissich said. "We wanted to make sure they are equipped and that they could quickly deploy the Narcan when it is absolutely needed."

Kissich said there are people in Huntsville who are alive now because police officers have been equipped with that tool.

Madison County Coroner Tyler Berryhill said someone in Madison County passes away because of an overdose every four to five days. Seventy percent of them involve an opioid. Typically, the ones who overdose are in their 20s, according to Berryhill.

The most recent overdose death was Monday.

Berryhill said the more people that have Narcan, the better.

"We are very, very grateful that we have that tool in our toolkit," Kissich said.

WAAY 31 reached out to other local law enforcement agencies to see if they also have Narcan in their toolkit. Madison County Sheriff's Office deputies do not carry Narcan, but Morgan County Sheriff's Office deputies do, and they've administered it 17 times so far this year.

Colbert County Sheriff's Office deputies also carry Narcan, and they're about to get a new supply. HEMSI said all of its paramedics and EMTs have Narcan with them at all times and can administer it in a few different ways.

HEMSI said they use Narcan on someone every single day, and the quicker it's administered, the better off someone will likely be.

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction, the following North Alabama resources can help:

PARTNERSHIP FOR A DRUG FREE COMMUNITY: 256-539-7339

COMMUNITY ACTION PARTNERSHIP OF NORTH ALABAMA: 256-355-7843

NOT ONE MORE ALABAMA: 256-384-055

S.A.M.H.S.A: 844-307-1760

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