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Police Department Fighting Opiate Overdoses with Narcan

The nasal spray Naloxone – more commonly known as Narcan – is used to reverse opiate overdoses Contributed photo.

With 60 reported opiate overdoses occurring during the past two years, Milford has not been immune from the nationwide surge in opiate overdoses. To prevent people from dying, by the end of this month the Police Department plans to deploy a nasal spray commonly known as Narcan in all of its vehicles.

Presenting those facts to the Board of Selectmen on March 10, Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin said his department is working with Milford Regional Medical Center's Emergency Department and the Community EMS, Inc. ambulance service to train the Police Department and equip vehicles' first aid kits.

"Once the training is completed, every Milford police officer who responds to assist a person in respiratory arrest due to an opiate intoxication will have the ability to administer Narcan to reverse the overdose," he said. "It's incredible. The people come out of it in literally seconds," he said. "It's a life-saver."

The nasal spray – its formal name is Naloxone – reverses overdoses of opiates including as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, oxymoron, OxyContin (oxycodone), percocet, percodan, hydrocodone and Vicodin, O'Loughlin explained. The spray is now carried by all of the town's fire apparatus and Community EMS's ambulances, he said. The Police Department will become the fifth within Massachusetts to deploy it, he added.

Noting there have been 185 overdoses in the state between last November 11 and February 28 – with most occurring in major cities – O'Loughlin said the nasal spray "will be a major boost in assisting people in need." Heroin's popularity is due to it becoming cheaper, but it is cut with all kinds of substances, the chief said.

"Do we see it? Unfortunately, yes," O'Loughlin said. "And we see really young people. It's here." His department is daily contact with police in Woonsocket, Marlborough and Framingham as heroin trafficking flows from Rhode Island to the Worcester area, he said. "If you see someone in your neighborhood with a lot of traffic coming in and out, they're not selling groceries. They're selling drugs," O'Loughlin said.

"This is spread throughout all classes of society," commented Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis. "You can bet your life on it," the chief responded. "This is a huge problem and it's not solely related to Milford or just the Commonwealth. It's nationwide," added Selectman Brian Murray. "It's a killer. I think they [opiate users] wind up either in prison or they're dead," Murray continued.

In a memo to the board, O'Loughlin said Dr. Eric Goedecke of the local hospital's Emergency Department is providing local police with the required two-hour training on how to use Narcan. Community EMS will use its prescription to replace any Narcan used by officers, the chief explained. "It sounds like a great program to be part of," Murray said.

Narcan – a controlled drug with no euphoric properties and minimal side effects – will not do any harm if it is administered to a person who is not suffering from an opiate overdose, O'Loughlin added.


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