Tuesday, June 17, 2014


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Heroin overdose medication training underway for police officers

ALBANY – By the end of this week, New York State will have trained approximately 600 police officers and sheriffs’ deputies in the use of naloxone, a medication that can save lives by reversing the effect of heroin or other opioid overdoses, which include prescription drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. The state also is providing agencies that send their officers to the trainings with supplies of naloxone at no cost.

"New York State is continuing to take the reins in the fight against heroin and opioid abuse," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "Providing first responders with free supplies of naloxone will save lives and help prevent tragedy, and I encourage law enforcement agencies across the state to take advantage of this important training."

In order to develop the training and provide supplies of naloxone to officers free, three state agencies – the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) – collaborated with Albany Medical Center, the national Harm Reduction Coalition, and other partners.

The state provides two types of trainings for law enforcement officers: hour-long classes that teach officers how to use naloxone and two-hour “train-the-trainer” classes that teach training officers, who then have the curriculum to train officers within their agencies. The state also helps those agencies obtain naloxone at no cost once officers are trained.

Tomorrow, June 17, the Kingston-based Ulster County Law Enforcement Training Group is hosting a train-the-trainer session as well as two classes for officers. Members of the media are invited to attend the training from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. At the conclusion of the three trainings, New York State will have trained 585 law enforcement officers from 97 agencies – including the New York State Police – in 25 counties and New York City since late April.

The state also has scheduled nine additional train-the-trainer classes and 16 classes for law enforcement officers through the end of July to provide the training and medication, known commercially as Narcan, to as many agencies and officers as possible. Those upcoming trainings will be held in Orange, Clinton, Dutchess, Onondaga, Steuben and Monroe counties.

In addition to teaching officers how to use naloxone, the police training provides an overview of the state’s Good Samaritan Law, which is intended to encourage individuals to seek medical attention for someone who is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life-threatening injury, who otherwise may have refused to do so for fear of criminal prosecution. It also details signs and symptoms of opioid overdose, provides officers with sample policies for their agencies dealing with the use and storage of naloxone, and features interviews with officers who have used naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose.

Naloxone works by temporarily reversing the effects of the opioid, whether illicit or prescription, allowing the individual to regain consciousness and resume normal breathing. When administered to a person suffering an opioid overdose, naloxone can reverse the overdose in a matter of minutes in a vast majority of cases saving the lives of those involved. It poses no danger to persons who otherwise might come into contact with it and it is not the kind of medication that can be abused.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose, and nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. When prescription medication is no longer available, individuals often turn to illicit drugs, such as heroin.