TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Deputies with the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office are adding another service to their belt, learning how to administer the overdose reversal drug to those who may need it in the community. The class was also offered to officers within the county.
Image by KMVT's Elenee Dao
"The first time I saw Narcan used was on a drug overdose that we weren't able to get the Narcan to that person until we got to the hospital and that was several years ago," explained Eric Foster, the Buhl police chief.
However, many first responders are now equipped to carry Narcan, or nalaxone. This currently includes Twin Falls Police, Magic Valley Paramedics, multiple QRUs in the area and more.
"I think this is a standard thing carried by first responders, whether it’d be medical first responders or law enforcement first responders," said Dr. Matthew Larsen, an emergency medicine physician with St. Luke's Magic Valley.
According to Larsen's presentation on Tuesday, more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016. That's more than the total lost in the Vietnam War.
"We've definitely seen a lot more heroin or opioid abuse than what we saw 20 years ago," said Kenneth Mencl, with the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office.
While Narcan has been around for a while in the medical field, it's now becoming more common to the public, Larsen said.
"In terms of using it in the public, that's become a new approach. It is really the last line of treating this epidemic. It is a life-saving measure and is employed when we have no other choices," Larsen said.
He said that Narcan is becoming a life-saving treatment, much like CPR.
"It is really more considered one of those basic life support or public domain-type interventions," he said.
Small towns are also not immune to this growing opioid epidemic.
"We have had to deploy Narcan to citizens within our city, both us and our fire department since the first of the year already," Foster explained.
Mencl said getting this addition is costly, but is needed to help fight the opioid epidemic and help the community.
"We’re going to put Narcan on 120 some odd deputies... $5 with each administration of it, the math adds up quickly, and that Narcan is only good for 15 months," Mencl continued. "So every 15 months we’re going to replace the amount of Narcan on our deputies to make sure they’re adequately prepared to address this epidemic. So, I guess this shows the community how committed we are to serving and making sure that we’re there when needed to combat that overdose."