West Virginia University is taking action to help law enforcement officers in West Virginia assist people who have overdosed on prescription opioid pain medications or illegal opiate drugs such as heroin.

Monongalia County Sheriff Al Kisner, Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston, and WVU Police Chief Bob Roberts helped launch the project at the WVU Health Sciences Center Friday (Dec. 4.)

Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of opiate and opioid drug overdoses. It’s been proven to save lives, and recent legislative action in West Virginia makes it possible for police and other first responders to carry and use naloxone.

The WVU Law Enforcement Naloxone Project will provide law enforcement agencies with the necessary training and procedures to administer this drug in emergency situations to persons incapacitated from an opioid or opiate overdose.

WVU’s David and Jo Ann Shaw Center for Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety (WVSTEPS) has already trained representatives from each local police department, who will in turn train all of the other officers expected to carry and administer naloxone.

“The combination of certified training and reliable naloxone supplies makes this program easy for any police agency to implement,” said Herb Linn, deputy director of the Injury Control Research Center (ICRC). “We are starting in Monongalia County, and plan to make the program available to law enforcement agencies across the state.”

Linn and his group acquired naloxone administration kits from a partner organization – Project Lazarus in North Carolina – and adapted them for use by local police officers. These kits include two atomizers (to enable naloxone to be sprayed into the nostrils of an overdose victim), an informational booklet, a set of instructions to supplement the formal training, a form for reporting when naloxone is used, and gloves to protect the officers. The WVU ICRC is providing police agencies with the kits free of charge. The drug itself will be provided through an on-campus pharmacy and added to the kits, which then can be easily carried by officers on foot or in police cruisers.

“We’re glad to be able to help our police respond to overdose emergencies,” said Bill Ramsey, M.D., chief collaboration officer at the WVU Health Sciences Center. “But overdose treatment only addresses one part of the drug epidemic in West Virginia. The University is committed to a broad approach to this crisis, including drug abuse prevention and better and more accessible addiction treatment.”



CONTACT: Bill Case, WVU Health Sciences
304.293.8045 or casew@wvuhealthcare.com

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