Heroin epidemic: Winnebago County sheriff’s deputies to begin carrying ‘overdose kit’

Online Staff Report

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office is taking a new approach in the battle to combat the growing number of heroin overdose-related deaths in Winnebago County.

In 2013, based on information from Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia, 51 of the 124 overdose deaths were heroin-related. To help combat these increasing numbers, sheriff’s deputies will receive training and begin carrying Naloxone, or Narcan. Training will begin Monday, June 9, and when deputies complete the 45-minute session, they will be issued an “overdose kit.”

In the past, when a deputy arrived at a scene of an overdose, there was not much they could do until fire or emergency personnel arrived, as this drug could only be administered by trained medical personnel through an injection. Changes in Illinois law have allowed basic first aid-trained responders, such as sheriff’s deputies, to administer the medication.

The new method of delivery is through an “atomized” (mist) spray into the nasal passages of the patient. The Sheriff’s Department has worked closely with Saint Anthony Medical Center in developing the protocol and training material for this program.

Educators from Saint Anthony Medical Center will be conducting training during roll-call sessions for deputies June 9 and June 11.

Having deputies carry the medication with them could be critical in unincorporated areas of Winnebago County. Though most of the rural areas have full-time medical personnel within their fire districts, they are subject to being on a prior call or a deputy may be closer and may arrive first on the scene and be able to administer the drug, if needed.

All of the municipal police agencies outside of the City of Rockford have expressed an interest in this program and will be provided with the same opportunity to receive this training and overdose kits for their officers. Supplies for the kits that are being issued to deputies and the outlying police agencies are being provided by the Sheriff’s Office and will be paid through the use of Drug Asset Forfeiture money. The cost of each kit is about $50.

Posted June 5, 2014

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