Lawmaker wants mandatory drug overdose training for police

Narcan bill and overdose training

WYOMING, MICH. - A state lawmaker wants to ensure that all Michigan police officers are trained to respond to overdoses, especially those in which the reversal drug naloxone could make the difference between life and death.

“We should be cross-training cops for the proper application of Narcan; it’s something we feel they all should be going through,’’ said state Rep. Patrick Green, D-Warren. “Right now, that training is not mandated.’’

Even though it is not mandated, many departments have already provided overdose reversal training to officers. Naloxone, known more commonly by the brand name Narcan, is standard equipment for first responders throughout Kent County.

Warren says his bill addresses smaller, rural departments that may not have officers who are trained in drug overdose treatment. The training would mirror what is already provided for paramedics and medical first responders, he said.

“At a minimum, training should include identification and de-escalation techniques,’’ Warren said.

Wyoming is among Kent County police agencies where officers have already been trained to handle drug overdoses.

“We were starting to see in 2015 and 2016, like everybody else, the overdose cases going up,’’ Wyoming Public Safety Director James E. Carmody said.

Kent County recorded 109 overdose deaths in 2015. The number dipped in 2016, but spiked to 121 last year. Numbers for 2017 are expected to increase as results come in on another 43 pending cases.

Fentanyl and heroin laced with fentanyl, Carmody said, are a growing concern.

“You can pretty much tell when a bad dosage comes into the community because that’s when your overdoses jump,’’ Carmody said.

Wyoming firefighter and EMS Coordinator Brad Dornbos says medical calls for overdoses goes in cycles.  Crews have responded to hotel rooms, private homes and parked cars.

“It goes in spurts,’’ Dornbos said. “Sometimes it might be a couple times a week.  A month or so ago we had six in one day; five of which were fatal.’’

Training, he said, is key to saving lives.

“It’s important for them to be trained,’’ Dornbos said. “This is just another tool that we can use to help that patient come around.’’

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