Police officers in
Porter County saved 28 lives in 2016 through the use of Narcan anti-opioid
emergency rescue kits.
The 23 officers who
saved those 28 lives were honored last week by the Porter County Drunk
Driving Task Force with a new award: the Phoenix, dubbed--as Coroner Chuck
Harris noted at the event--for the mythical bird which rises from its own
ashes to fly and thrive again.
“We have named
these awards ‘The Phoenix Awards,’” Harris said, “representing what we hope
is the victims rising from their near-death experience and seeking
The Portage Police
Department was the first law enforcement agency in the county to issue
Narcan rescue kits to officers, in 2014 and on a limited basis to patrol
supervisors. Later that year, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police issued kits
to all 65 of its road officers and trained them in the use of Narcan, with
assistance from the Portage Fire Department. Finally, in 2015, the Porter
County Community Foundation made grant funding available to purchase a kit
for virtually every patrol officer in the county.
carrying Narcan was relatively unheard of just a couple of years ago,”
Harris noted at last week’s event. “However, with great leadership in our
local law enforcement agencies and by addressing the problem at hand, you
became innovative and added one more resource in battling our drug epidemic.
You took the initiative to go above and beyond for your communities.”
The kits are easier
to use--each contains a pre-measured dosage administered through the nose,
without a needle--and have the almost instantaneous effect of reversing the
effect of an opioid overdose.
In 2016 the Narcan
kits were used successfully by 11 officers with the Portage PD, to save 14
lives; by seven officers with the PCSP, to save eight lives; and by five
officers with the Valparaiso PD, to save six lives.
will not end our current situation with drug overdoses, it is making a
difference,” Harris said. “I, like most of you, have seen first hand the
devastation drugs cause in our community. Narcan is giving people who have
made a bad choice an opportunity to get better, to seek help with their
addiction, and not to leave parents without their child. Most of the time
these aren’t bad people, they’re typically good people who’ve made a bad
choice. I can assure you that this is a valuable program.”
“Each one of the
awards given out today represents a life that was saved, a life that did not
simply become a statistic that my office gives out at the end of the year,”
“I am excited to
present for the first time in Porter County a new award to recognize and
honor the officers who have gone above and beyond their typical duties.
These officers have encountered an overdose victim and administered Narcan.”
Harris did add this
sobering conclusion to his comments, however. Despite the 28 lives saved by
officers in 2016, it will still be a record year for heroin-related deaths,
opioid related-deaths, and total drug overdoses.