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Training in handling overdoses proving helpful

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — Heroin overdoses has become a growing concern for police in Columbus, but they’re hoping a life-saving drug could help to prevent another death in town.

Police started training last month on how to administer Narcan when they’re out on a call. The drug reverses the effects of an overdose. Columbus Police tell 24-Hour News 8 they didn’t think they would be using it so soon.It was just a week ago when the last group of officers from the Columbus Police Department finished training and learning how to administer Narcan.

“Anytime there’s something new there’s you know a little apprehension,” said Sgt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department. “As we saw what happened this weekend, the officers performed flawlessly to help save the lives of two young woman who overdosed on heroin.”

Sgt. Matt Harris says his department has seen the success of other law enforcement agencies from other states using Narcan and wanted to bring the program to Columbus.

“We did see a need. Columbus is no different than other communities in the state of Indiana and across the country,” said Harris. “We are seeing an increase in the heroin overdoses.”

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Sgt. Harris says the department had five people die from heroin overdoses last year compared to three in 2013.

At least 63 officers now have a Narcan kit in their patrol car. The medication comes in a syringe type of device, but it’s actually a nasal spray.

“You would press down on the instrument as you would on any type of nasal spray so the officer would administer half of the medication in one nostril and the other half in the other nostril,” said Harris.

The Columbus Police Department is just one of a handful of agencies in Indiana that has Narcan, but a proposed measure could change that.

According to a drafted legislation, Senate Bill 406 would allow doctors to prescribe the lifesaving drug to relatives and friends, to help someone who may be at risk of overdosing.

“Addiction is a very tough topic and there are a lot of families that struggle with this,” said Harris. “Hopefully we can encourage those people who have addiction or issues and let them know there is a better way and help them get the help they need.”

The department was able to pay for this drug with help from fundraising and grants. The purchase did not cost taxpayers anything.

Meanwhile, the bill is scheduled for a committee hearing on Wednesday.

To read more about the senate bill, click here.

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