Deputies to carry drug overdose antidote

By Erika Mahoney

February 14, 2014 Updated Feb 15, 2014 at 8:31 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Every member of the Broome County Sheriff's Office will have the chance to save people suffering from fatal heroin overdoses.

In a new partnership between the Broome County Sheriff's Office and the Broome County Health Department, every deputy will carry two doses of Narcan.

It's a nasal spray that reverses the effects of opiate-related overdoses, including heroin, and can save someone's life if administered in time.

"We look at it as a tool to help save lives, just like an AED," Harder said. "Hopefully we won't have any more overdoses, but I'm sure there will be."

Since the start of the new year, 10 people died from heroin overdoses, compared to 31 opiate-related deaths in 2013.

Deputies are learning how to use the nasal spray, as well as the signs of opiate overdose, which include slow, nonexistent breathing, unconsciousness, and blue lips and fingernails.

If the deputies misdiagnose the situation, and use the Narcan, it won't harm the person in need.

"It's pretty remarkable how specific an action it has and it has no other bad effects," Dr. Christopher Ryan of the Broome County Health Department said.

The sheriff's office is purchasing the kits through through money they've recovered from drug raids.

Harder said the program costs about $3,000. He said it's an important investment because heroin is plaguing the community, and a life saved, means a life that can hopefully find recovery.

"It's life long treatment, nobody really gets cured from chemical dependence and it's work to do the treatment, but people can get better," Dr. Ryan said. "And the idea here is, you can only engage with treatment if you're alive."

Harder and Dr. Ryan agree this program is especially critical in rural areas of Broome County.

That's because deputies are often the first to respond in those communities.

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