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Township Police Plan Naloxone Deployment

SANATOGA PA – Once they complete necessary training, Lower Pottsgrove police officers will be equipped with a new, and so far successfully proven, tool to help save the lives of individuals who have overdosed on opiate-based drugs like heroin and fentanyl, Chief Michael Foltz has told the township Board of Commissioners.

Foltz authorized the department’s participation in a Montgomery County program using naloxone, also known by the trade name “Narcan.” The prescription medication, which has received widespread regional publicity because of its effectiveness, blocks or reverses the effects of an opiate overdose, including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness.

The program’s costs are being underwritten by the county District Attorney’s Office and Department of Public Safety.

Foltz was candid with commissioners, saying he had “struggled for several months” over whether deploying naloxone was appropriate. He conducted a significant amount of research, the chief said, and also discussed the issue with others knowledgeable about the program. Ultimately, he decided “we’ll roll it out in the next month or so,” commissioners learned.

Foltz himself finished a Naloxone Training for Law Enforcement course during October, according to the department’s monthly report.

The county Health Department, in a “frequently asked questions” document distributed earlier this year, claims “naloxone is a safe medication with no abuse potential.” A 2014 state law allows it to be legally administered by “any individual likely to witness an overdose.” Giving naloxone to someone who is not actually having an overdose “will not further endanger them,” it added.

Doses can be injected into a vein or muscle, even through clothing; sprayed into the nose, or administered using an auto-injector. County commissioner and health department Interim Medical Director Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh issued a standing order for several pharmacies within the county to allow purchase of naloxone without a prescription. The order applies, however, only to sprayed or auto-injected delivery.

Foltz did not specify which delivery methods the department plans to use.

County officials in April (2015) credited Limerick Township Ofc. Stephen Winneberger with saving the life of a 23-year-old man who had used heroin by administering naloxone with an voice-guided auto-injector. A county press release quoted Limerick Police Chief William Albany as saying “Being able to carry and administer this life-saving drug to overdose victims just makes sense, because our number one mission is to protect life.”

Other local departments that as of April had deployed naloxone use include those in New Hanover and Upper and Lower Providence townships.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Nov. 5 meeting):

Photo from Google Images

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