This month, the Rainsville Police Department supplied its officers with equipment and medication to help combat the fight against the opioid epidemic in the area.
Earlier this year, federal grants allocated to first responders around the country helped to purchase Naloxone injectors to use on a patient during an overdose.
Since then, fire departments, emergency responders and police departments have taken the training course and registered themselves as injector carriers.
“We got these about two weeks ago,” Police Chief Kevin Smith said. “I had to go through the training and then each officer goes through the training, and they can carry it from there.
Every officer on the street is carrying them, and we actually have 12 right now and every shift has at least two. They sign them out at each shift and turn them in the incoming shift. I have one kit as a spare and one kit for the jail.”
Smith said each package of medicine also comes with a replica training aid that has pre-recorded instructions on how to administer the injection.
“[The tester] talks to them and tells them how it works and how to use the injector,” Smith said.
“When someone is having an opioid overdose, one of the first things that happen is the brain shuts down the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system. So, this blocks the opioid receptors in the brain from shutting everything down.”
The process is similar to administering an EpiPen used during an allergic reaction, Smith said.
Smith said Rodney Williams, pharmacist at Sylvania Pharmacy, and the department of public health supplied the department with the injectors.
“He’s my regular family pharmacist and I asked him how we would need to start the process of getting them,” Smith said. “He said he had them in stock and all we needed to do was take the initiative to get them.”
Each kit includes two, 2ml doses, along with the training device and would be $1,600 each if not for the grants.
Not only are these emergency injectors good for the community, but they could also save an officer’s life that has been exposed to an opioid, Smith said.
“It’s going to save lives and that’s all I care about, whether it be the officers or somebody here on the street in this opioid epidemic,” Smith said. “If one of my officers get exposed to fentanyl or carfentanil, this could save their life.”
According to the CDC website, even small amounts of exposure to these synthetic drugs can have an effect on the body. To keep officers safe from exposure, Smith said the department has also purchased fentanyl resistant, disposable gloves.
Smith said the gloves have multiple layers that have different colors. In the event of a glove tearing or being cut, Smith said the different colors will let the wearer know if the gloves have been compromised.
“Since I first found out about fentanyl and carfentanil, I’ve been trying to find out what I can do to protect our officers,” Smith said.