Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Coroner Harris honors officers who saved OD victims with Narcan

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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 treatment.”

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.

“Law enforcement 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.

“Although Narcan 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,” Harris remarked.

“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.

 

 

Posted 12/22/2016

 
 
 
 

 

 

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