IMPD officers learning to use overdose antidote

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There's a new tool to help police fight the heroin epidemic sweeping central Indiana.

At the Indianapolis Metro Police west district Wednesday, police officers were training to use overdose kits with Narcan. It's a small, syringe-like applicator about the size of an ink pen.

It doesn't solve what many are calling a heroin epidemic, but it does reverse the effects of an overdose within minutes.

One hundred twenty-five southwest district officers will have the antidote, which they can carry in their trauma kits. At a training session Wednesday, within 30 minutes officers learned to recognize the signs of a heroin or opiate overdose and then how to administer the nasal mist.

The project is a collaboration between Indianapolis EMS and IMPD, and it saves critical minutes putting the medicine in the hands of officers who encounter drug users who overdose often well before an ambulance can arrive.

"We're in a problem," said Dr. Dan O'Donnell with Indianapolis EMS. "People are dying and they're doing it in record numbers. So we have to do something."

More than 100 people died in Indianapolis last year from heroin-related overdoses - almost as high as the murder rate. The use of Narcan is up 50 percent over last year, being used twice a day in ambulances.

"Even if that doesn't make them stop right then and there, at least they have the chance to stop," said Bridget Fitzgerald, a former heroin addict.

Fitzgerald spoke from experience. She now teaches at Wheeler Mission's Center for Women and Children. As a former addict, she was once given Narcan at the hospital after an overdose.

"It didn't get me to stop using, but it saved my life so that eventually I could stop using and live a productive life and serve other people."

Now, Metro Police will have the opportunity to save others.

"When we came on, we all took an oath to 'protect and serve'," said Ofc. Angelina Poe. "And that's just another way we can help someone through drug addiction and seek help."

Each dose costs about $17 but doctors said it could save tens of thousands of dollars in emergency room costs. It has practically no negative side effects and can save lives.

Right now, this is a pilot program but if it's successful it could be used by the entire department.