A National Crisis
Over the past 15 years, individuals, families, and communities across our Nation have been tragically affected by the opioid epidemic. The number of overdose deaths from prescription and illicit opioids doubled from 21,089 in 2010 to 42,249 in 2016. This steep increase is attributed to the rapid proliferation of illicitly made fentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids. These highly potent opioids are being mixed with heroin, sold alone as super-potent heroin, pressed into counterfeit tablets to look like commonly misused prescription opioids or sedatives (e.g., Xanax), and being mixed (often unknowingly) with other illicit drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine. The resulting unpredictability in illegal drug products is dramatically increasing the risk of a fatal overdose. Another contributing factor to the rise in opioid overdose deaths is an increasing number of individuals receiving higher doses of prescription opioids for long-term management of chronic pain. Even when taking their pain medications as prescribed, these patients are at increased risk of accidental overdose as well as drug-alcohol or drug-drug interactions with sedating medications, such as benzodiazepines (anxiety or sleep medications).
First Responders at Risk
Law enforcement professionals and emergency medical responders are especially vulnerable to exposure from opioids, particularly exposure to fentanyl. Hundreds of times more potent than heroin, fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs, which can make it more difficult to detect. With the ability to be absorbed through the skin, or inhaled if airborne, a law enforcement officer can come into contact with fentanyl during a routine traffic stop. Its effects can be felt in seconds or minutes, depending on the circumstances. Without immediate treatment it can be deadly, and sadly has claimed the lives of many of our nation’s finest. Training is critical, but sometimes even the best training is not enough. Thankfully, there’s a solution.
A Life Saving Solution
Naloxone (commonly known by the brand name Narcan®) is an opioid antagonist that is used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, namely slowed or stopped breathing. Expanding the awareness and availability of this medication is a key part of the public health response to the opioid epidemic. Naloxone is a safe antidote to a suspected overdose and, when given in time, can save a life. While paramedics have carried naloxone for decades, it is increasingly being used by police officers, emergency medical technicians, and non-emergency first responders to reverse opioid overdoses. Many law enforcement departments are allowed to or required to carry naloxone to quickly respond to opioid overdoses.
On Hand at All Times
Public safety professionals know that lifesaving equipment only works when it’s worn or carried on your person. Narcan® nasal spray is compact and requires no assembly to use, this is vital when seconds count. There are now products available to conveniently and securely carry Narcan® nasal spray on your duty belt, instantly accessible. One example from Galls accommodates one 4mg Narcan nasal spray unit and fits a standard 2 ¼” duty belt. This dedicated pouch features high-quality construction that will hold up to heavy use while seamlessly matching the rest of your Galls duty rig.
Surgeon General of the United States (https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/priorities/opioid-overdose-prevention/naloxone-advisory.html#ftn3)