A new tool is being distributed to law enforcement agencies across Ellis County. A tool that may save somebody's life.
The Texas Department of Public Safety began deploying NARCAN kits and tactical emergency training to Texas State Troopers across the state last month. According to a DPS media release, NARCAN is an emergency treatment spray that can be administered through ones nasal passages to provide relief for victims suffering from a drug overdose. NARCAN is administered through a victim's nasal passages
Although NARCAN emergency kits were only recently distributed to agencies across the state, DPS director Steven McCraw stated it didn't take very long for them to get put to good use. He recalled one recent instance where one DPS trooper encountered an individual on the side of the road in Hidalgo County who was overdosing from opioid use.
"Through decisive action, the trooper utilized his tactical emergency training to administer NARCAN, which ultimately saved this individual's life," McCaw said. "By providing every trooper with a NARCAN kit, we are giving them another tool to save lives as they serve and protect their communities."
But DPS is not the only law enforcement agency to distribute NARCAN to their officers. The Midlothian Police Department, for instance, recently started roll call training with their officers and started providing NARCAN kits for their patrol units.
"There's already boxes of it out in the field with officers," Midlothian Police Capt. John Spann stated. "I've even got two boxes in my own patrol bag."
Spann stated that it can sometimes be difficult to tell if someone is suffering from an overdose or not. He said officers are trained to read the warning signs of a victim suffering from a potential overdose – including their skin turning blueish purple, loss of consciousness, their breathing and pulse being slow and shallow, or their body being very limp.
If it is dictated that a victim is indeed suffering from a drug overdose, then the decision can be made to apply the NARCAN spray and transport them to a medical center for further treatment.
"A lot of times, people don't realize that somebody is overdosing," Spann stated. "They could be at a party and they think they're just passed out. From a lot of instances, we may be one of the first responders there. If it's not an opioid overdose, this isn't supposed to hurt them. But if it is an overdose, it could potentially save their lives."
The Red Oak Police Department is currently working on training their personnel and issuing NARCAN to their patrols as well, according to Red Oak Police Lt. Marc Schroeder. Other departments, such as Waxahachie Police and Fire, have already implemented it and utilize it in the field regularly.
Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd stated that the department gets dispatched regularly for drug overdoses. He estimated that about 75 percent of their calls are for emergency service responses.
"We often get there before AMR does," Boyd expressed. "We respond to high-priority medical emergencies. All of our engineers in the truck are paramedic-equipped. They have the exact same equipment and medications that AMR carries. We can basically do everything they can except transport the patient."
Troopers seized over 94 pounds of a synthetic opioid called fentanyl in 2018, which amounted to more than 23 million lethal doses, according to a DPS media release. With more drug overdose cases happening year after year, Spann stated it's more important than ever to be ready to combat it.
Tools such as NARCAN could help law enforcement agencies as this epidemic continues on.
"The possibility of somebody surviving an overdose with this is pretty high. If they don't, anything could happen," Spann stated. "If it can make a difference in somebody's life, it's worth it."