Franklin County Sheriff's Office program hopes to prevent opiate overdose deaths

Published: Jul. 22, 2016 at 5:55 PM EDT
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In Franklin County, 84 people have died over the past year from opioid overdoses.

Nationwide, nearly 60% of overdose deaths are opioid related.

Franklin County is hoping to change those statistics in Southwest Virginia.

A little blue bag is a game changer for Franklin County deputies.

“The ability to have this and to administer this as quickly as we can we believe it gives that person a second chance at life, for sure,” says Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton.

Inside the bag is Narcan, a nasal spray form of Naloxone.

It's a drug used to treat someone with an opioid overdose.

“It basically works to reverse the effects specifically the respiratory depression or trouble breathing that a patient may have and can actually revive the person after an overdose,” says Carilion Clinic Department of Emergency Medicine’s Paul Stromberg, M.D.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is only one of seven law enforcement agencies in the country to receive the drug from a grant through the National Sheriff's Association and Perdue Pharma.

The Narcan program allows every patrolling deputy to have the drug on them.

Right now deputies are using a syringe with a nasal attachment they have to do it themselves but come January it will get a whole easier with a nasal spray.

“All you do is open up the cartridge, stick it up their nose and you push the plunger and you give them the dose,” says Franklin County’s Medical Officer Megan Patterson.

The drug only works for about 30 minutes.

“It is a temporary solution so that emergency medical services can arrive and take over,” says Patterson.

But it's a solution Sheriff Overton believes can help against deaths caused by an opioid overdose.

“It's certainly a problem, and as our country has recognized as an epidemic issue,” says Sheriff Overton.

The drug only works on someone who has overdosed on opioids.

If Narcan is given to someone who may be unconscious for another reason, it will not have any affect on them.

The Sheriff's Office hopes to eventually train civilians on how to use the drug on loved one with an opioid addiction.

Once they are trained, they can receive a prescription from a doctor.