Jun 8, 2015 4:42 PM
ROCHESTER - The number of heroin overdoses continue to climb in the state – and so do the number of deaths.
Now, one Seacoast police department is equipping its officers with a drug that can be the difference of life or death, Narcan.
The department decided to equip officers with it after the legislature voted to allow police officers to start carrying the drug earlier this year.
Rochester officers have been trained – and soon they’ll be able to join a team of first responders that can use it to help save lives.
“Last year we had 78 heroin overdoses for the year," said Capt. Gary Boudreau. "This year - year to date - we’re in the low 40s.”
As the problem with heroin continues to grow, as do overdoses, it was determined officers should carry the drug that counteracts narcotic effects in overdose victims.
The emergency responders must take additional CPR training and first aid – as well as online courses.
The Narcan will be kept inside the police cruisers, to be used at times when officers beat an ambulance to the scene and time is of the essences.
The drug, which works like a nasal spray, will still be predominantly administered by Frisbie Ambulance paramedics.
According to Frisbie's Assistant Director Gary Brock, opioid use is increasing because what’s inside the narcotic drugs is changing.
“The amount of drug being taken in in a single dose is killing many of them," Brock said of users.
Narcan works as an antagonist – it blocks pain centers in the brain from receiving narcotics like heroin.
“When it competes, it wins," Brock said. "If someone has an overdose of a narcotic, the Narcan will compete for that receptor site in the brain.”
The life-saving drug, also known as Naloxone, has been used for decades by emergency personnel.
The hope in Rochester is that it will fill the gaps when minutes matter – and potentially the difference between life or death.
“If not for the intervention of first responders, the numbers in New Hampshire would be in the thousands," Brock said.
The Narcan doses, which cost about $49 each, will be paid for by Frisbie and given to the police department free of charge.
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