Norfolk deputies gain new tool to fight opioid overdoses

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A local sheriff’s office is doing its part to fight the opioid epidemic. 

Norfolk deputies received Narcan training, which helps save people suffering from opioid overdoses. 

It’s part of a much bigger picture, though. 

The deputies went through what’s called Revive training.

Sheriff Joe Baron said his deputies have encountered people who were experiencing an overdose.

In fact, he said opioid overdoses are the number one cause of unnatural death in Virginia.

For the first time, two dozen Norfolk Sheriff’s deputies are now trained to take on the opioid crisis. The new tool in their arsenal is Narcan.

“It’s not a miracle drug but it is a drug that can save a life,” Baron said.

Narcan can temporarily reverse the effects of opioid medicines and can start working in 30 to 45 seconds — time that’s crucial for someone suffering an overdose.

“Right now it’s so important because the potency of synthetic opioids is at 40 percent. 10 years ago, it was at 5 percent,” said Archie Boone, Jr., a certified Revive trainer.

Baron said there were more than 1,400 opioid overdoses in Virginia last year, with about 30 opioid related deaths in Norfolk in 2018.

“That’s a loss of a loved one. That causes pain in our community.” 

From part-time security jobs to intake at the jail, deputies have come into contact with someone on opioids before, but now they’re ready for it.

“As a first responder, it gives you another tool to help someone who may be in need,” said Cpl. Jeffery Sheppard. “Give them a second chance at life.”

Baron said that’s the main goal against this fight.

“Just like we train everybody for CPR to be able to respond to somebody with a heart attack, there really isn’t a reason we can’t get everybody trained to use Narcan. If we as a community can respond more effectively, then we can save more lives,” he said.

Narcan is a nasal spray but it can also be given as an injection. 

There is no civil liability for deputies to administer the drug. You may be wondering – what happens if deputies give Narcan to someone who appears to be suffering from an overdose but it’s a different medical crisis?  

Narcan has no effect in people who are not taking opioid medicines.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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