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Cincinnati police receive major influx of Narcan doses

The new doses come after months of CPD officers having to buy Narcan themselves.
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 8:45 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Cincinnati Police Department last week received hundreds of doses of Narcan, the life-saving drug that can reverse opioid overdoses.

The 408 Narcan doses come by virtue of a donation from the Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition.

Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan is co-chair of the Addiction Response Coalition.

“I just think it’s important that we save someone’s life,” Synan said. “I think our jobs as first responders is not to pick and choose who we save. We shouldn’t be the judges of who lives and who doesn’t live. You have this tool, let’s use it, let’s save somebody’s life.”

Due to dwindling supplies during the pandemic, CPD officers sometimes had to rely on Narcan they purchased on their own, as in the case of two officers who used Narcan to save an Oakley woman’s life in May.

The Cincinnati Fire Department and its medics are always the first call to overdoses, and they’re equipped with Narcan. But when police officers are first to the scene, having Narcan doses on hand can make all the difference.

“Our officers are practically out on patrol all through the day, so they may be flagged down by someone who sees someone who is experiencing an overdose or a loved one who is experiencing an overdose,” CPD Capt. Doug Snider explained. “They’ll be the first ones there to respond more often than not before the fire department. So having them there first to administer the Narcan is huge, and it’s absolutely critical that we’re able to do that.”

Synan says overdoses decreased 11 percent during the pandemic, but 2020 still saw 432 deaths in Hamilton County.

The county is still averaging between 50-70 overdoses per week.

“I think what the public sees with an overdose is they only focus on that one individual,” Synan said. “If you’re a police officer of a firefighter, you realize it’s not just that one person. There is usually a mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter who is standing next to you while you’re administering that Narcan to somebody. That is a loved one to them who has struggled alongside them, so I think it’s very important to humanize this issue.”

The doses received last week will be distributed across all five districts of the Cincinnati Police Department as well as the Central Business Section.

Snider says they won’t cover the entire department, but it should be enough to equip officers patrolling the streets, who are most likely to come into contact with an overdose.

Synan adds Narcan’s shelflife has doubled to two years, making the new doses that much more valuable.

He also says any law enforcement department in Hamilton County can reach out, and the Addiction Response Coalition will work on getting them supplied through the Hamilton County Health Narcan Program.

The coalition will even help departments outside the county get in touch with the state for help.

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