WPD waits for use of new life saver drug to be approved - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

WPD waits for use of new life saver drug to be approved

© U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for law enforcement agencies nationwide to equip their officers with naloxone. © U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for law enforcement agencies nationwide to equip their officers with naloxone.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Port City is no stranger to heroin. According to data from Wilmington Police Department, 192 heroin arrests were made in Wilmington in 2011; 316 arrests were made in 2012; and 332 arrests were made in 2013.

"It's use in our community has certainly grown," stated WPD Spokesperson Linda Rawley in an interview Tuesday. "We make a lot of drug arrests. We certainly run into a lot of people that are using it, and it is dangerous."

On Monday U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder referred to overdose deaths as "an urgent public health crisis." Holder called for law enforcement agencies nationwide to equip their officers with naloxone.

Dr. Heston Lamar, Medical Director for New Hanover County EMS, explained that naloxone is an antidote to heroin and other opiates. It comes in the form of nasal spray or in a syringe.

"It is a reversal agent that basically blocks the effects of opiate pain medications on the body," Lamar said.

Rawley said the WPD's insurance provider is considering letting officers carry the antidote now.

"It's certainly something our chief and our department is interested in looking into," Rawley said. "Our attorneys need to look at it from a liability standpoint.  It's not every day you have officers administering (drugs).  You know, that's not something we do right now."

Dr. Lamar said he sees overdoses in Wilmington far too often these days.  He said it seems like there is a heroin overdose once a week.

"It's shocking how often our EMS providers in New Hanover County use (naloxone) and resuscitate people from heroin and other types of opiate overdoses," Lamar explained.

Rawley said officers carrying medicine will be a great benefit to the community if it is approved.

"As a law enforcement agency, whatever we can do to prevent the death of someone from these drugs, we want to get involved in doing that," said Rawley.

Rawley explained there is still no timetable as to if, or when, officers will be allowed to carry the overdose antidote.

Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.

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