Umatilla County now has naloxone rescue kits designed to save lives by reversing an overdose from prescription opioids.
The Umatilla County Health Department delivered the kits to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office on March 2. The delivery was the result of a partnership between the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) CEO and Executive Director Jonathan Thompson, Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan, and Umatilla County Public Health’s Mike Stensrud, who is also the Eastern Oregon Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention coordinator
A new round of funding from Purdue Pharma L.P. is helping the NSA expand its program of offering naloxone kits and training in their use free of charge to law enforcement agencies across the country, including 30 kits (60 doses) to Umatilla County. Purdue Pharma has funded the NSA program with $850,000 nationwide since its inception in November 2015.
“First and foremost, this is about keeping our first responders safe,” said Stensrud. “Recently, Oregon State Police stopped conducting drug field tests due to the potency of opioids being trafficked, such as fentanyl. Simply touching or inhaling extraordinarily small quantities of fentanyl can cause an overdose. By equipping our sheriffs with this life-saving drug, they can respond to emergencies with less apprehension and risk of a contact overdose. They will also have the ability to administer naloxone if they encounter an overdose event and EMS has not yet arrived. It was really a collaborative effort across the board. Each sheriff’s department responded positively and worked aggressively to have naloxone available to its officers. Some departments are still ironing out procedures and paperwork, but we’re all really close to having this project fully implemented.”
Rowan said he was grateful to the National Sheriffs’ Association and Purdue Pharma for their help.
“We can now provide our deputies with another tool to fight the opioid crisis,” said Rowan. “Our officers and support personnel have long been proactive in fighting heroin and other opioids. Now, with this additional support, we can be even more effective. We are grateful for this national support; solving this crisis will take the collective effort of our entire community.”
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, quickly responding to an opioid overdose with the life-saving reversal drug naloxone is critical. Expanding access to naloxone for first responders and individuals likely to witness an overdose, and training health care providers to prescribe naloxone to at-risk patients, are essential actions to reverse the epidemic.