Polk officers now equipped and trained with overdose-blocking medication

Published 10:53 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

COLUMBUS-Polk County Sheriff’s Officers are now fully equipped with Naxolone (Narcan) and are all trained to administer the drug to stop people from an opioid overdose.

Capt. Lowell Griffin with the sheriff’s office said all patrol officers and most investigators have now been trained and are carrying Narcan in their patrol vehicles.

Officer Caleb Edwards administered Narcan to a victim of an opioid overdose on Friday, Feb. 2 to save the victim’s life.

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Capt. Tim Wright of the Tryon Police Department made arrangements with Vaya Health in Asheville to obtain the Narcan for both the officers of Tryon and the sheriff’s office at no cost to the agencies, according to Griffin.

Griffin said the sheriff’s has 22 officers able to administer Narcan.

Narcan counteracts the effects that an opioid overdose can have on the body. Griffin said when a person takes too many opioids, the victim stops breathing and the opioid attaches itself to the brain. Narcan inhibits the opioid from affecting the brain, Griffin said.

The Naloxone the sheriff’s office has is a nasal atomizer, which is a nasal spray.

“We may be the first ones on the scene,” Griffin said. “We also need (Narcan) for our personal safety.”

There have been several cases throughout the country where an officer has opened a bag and have been exposed to too much opioids and had to have another officer administer Narcan, Griffin said.

Griffin said opioid abuse is an epidemic in Polk County and the county has had several overdoes in recent years.

“People have a much better chance of surviving with Narcan than without,” Griffin said.

Opioids include pain killers such as Oxycodone, Heroin and synthetic opioids.

Griffin said because the price of prescription medication has gone up and Heroin is cheaper, the county is seeing a lot of Heroin abuse. A 30 mg tablet of Oxycodone can go for $40-$45 a pill, Griffin said. A point, or approximately 1/10 of a gram of Heroin can be sold for $25 or under.

Polk County is working to combat the opioid problem in the county with the Polk County Board of Commissioners spearheading a forum last year. A second forum is scheduled for March 20 and is a partnership of the county and its consolidated human services agency, Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly’s Polk Substance Abuse Coalition (PSAC) and Vaya Health.