WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WTSP) -- Florida has one of the highest rates of opioid drug overdose deaths in the country. To combat that, some police departments are having every single one of their officers carry Naloxone. The drug counteracts the effects of an overdose.
Paramedics have had the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone in their trucks for years, and they’ve seen firsthand how it can save a life.
“They go from almost basically baseline dead to back to normal, talking to you, carrying on a conversation,” Andy Hawks of the Lakeland Fire Department said.
Only recently, some police officers and Sheriff’s deputies have started carrying the drug too.
“I believe it will be a life saver,” Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird said. “It’s not a matter of if. I think it’s a matter of when.”
Bird’s department will be the latest to have all of its officers go through training to carry and administer the drug.
“It’s to deal with a medical emergency, and not to treat the addiction,” he explained.
Health officials said opiate use hasn’t reached epidemic levels in Polk County, but people who run treatment centers have noticed an uptick.
“If it’s not opioids, if that’s not their main drug of choice, they’ve had experience with it,” therapist Donna St. Rock said.
She supports the department’s move and compared police officer carrying Naloxone to having a defibrillator in their car.
They don’t want to use the drug, but like paramedics, they’ll be ready if they have to.
The Winter Haven Police Department is the first major law enforcement agency in Polk County to make the move. Others tell us the training and the drug itself are just too expensive.