LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As heroin deaths continue to rise throughout the Commonwealth, interest in an overdose antidote known as Naloxone or Narcan is being considered among law enforcement officials.
Narcan has been credited with saving lives when seconds matter most. In Scott County, Indiana, it is a staple in paramedic kits.
"All paramedics in Scott County carry up to six of these right here," said Tyler Williams, deputy director of Scott County Emergency Media Services. "We can give it IM, IV, or inter-nasal."
Williams said the antidote has been a key tool for his colleagues.
"Opioid use in Scott County is very pronounced. It's everywhere," said Williams. "The amount of lives that we're saving by having this is crucial."
"It's very effective in those specific overdoses instances where they're things like morphine, fentanyl, or heroin," said Jacob Carroll, Scott County EMS Director.
According to Carroll, only trained first responders are able to administer the antidote following a set protocol.
"Just our paramedics and our advanced EMTs that are certified by the state and our paramedics that are licensed by the state can utilize Narcan in the field," began Carroll. "There are certain signs and symptoms based off the history that we determine from the patient and from family members that are on the scene. If the patient's unresponsive, has shallow reparations those are some indication in which we would use the Narcan."
With Jefferson County cited by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy as having the most overdose deaths in 2013, at 191, Louisville Metro Police are also interested in being able to administer the antidote.
"Right now our officers are not carrying it but I know that it has been discussed but that has been somewhat hindered by the current law," said Sgt. Phil Russell, an LMPD spokesman.
A bill passed into Kentucky law in 2012 allows doctors to prescribe Narcan to family members of addicts to have on hand, just in case.
"We have always been able to use Narcan," said Carroll.
Unlike families and paramedics, however, when it comes to administering the potentially life-saving treatment others first on scene are still waiting for the green light.
"There's obviously some hindrances for us to be able to move forward immediately with that in regards to making sure officers are adequately trained, making sure that we're abiding what is current state law," said Russell.
Until use of the opioid antidote is approved for law enforcement, paramedics like Williams will continue to keep an extra supply on hand.
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