Of­fi­cials: Use of life­sav­ing over­dose drug ex­pand­ing

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ ce­cil­whig. com

— The use of an over­dose- re­vers­ing drug by first re­spon­ders has ex­panded in the county over the past 18 months, af­ter a pro­gram trained all Cecil County law en­force­ment agen­cies on its ad­min­is­tra­tion, of fi­cials re­ported at Thurs­day night’s meet­ing of the Mayor’s Drug Task Force.

Sev­eral may­ors, law en­force­ment lead­ers and health of­fi­cials came to­gether to dis­cuss the use of nalox­one, a nasal spray pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion that re­verses the ef­fects of an opi­oid over­dose and al­lows time for a pa­tient to seek ad­di­tional med­i­cal treat­ment.

County law en­force­ment agen­cies have ad­min­is­tered nalox­one, also com­monly known by its brand name Nar­can, 22 times through June and there have been 118 to­tal ad­min­is­tra­tions, in­clud­ing those by emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices ( EMS) per­son­nel, so far this year, Cecil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice Maj. Ge­orge Stanko said.

In 2015, 221 nalox­one ad­min­is­tra­tions were per­formed cu­mu­la­tively by county law en­force­ment agen­cies and EMS per-


son­nel, Stanko re­ported. He said of those 221 ad­min­is­tra­tions, only 14 were per­formed by po­lice agen­cies in the county.

Richard Brooks, di­rec­tor of the Cecil County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices, said depart­men­tal pro­to­col for paramedics is to ad­min­is­ter nalox­one to any un­con­scious per­son. He noted that the statis­tics do not nec­es­sar­ily mean an in­crease in over­doses, but also re­flect a rais­ing the com­fort level for the first re­spon­ders in ad­min­is­ter­ing the drug.

Over the past two years, CCDES has gone to many lengths to in­tro­duce the life­sav­ing medicine to first re­spon­ders, Brooks said, not­ing that in­cluded teach­ing local en­force­ment of­fi­cers how to carry and ad­min­is­ter nalox­one.

Al­though, the drug is a great tool for pre­vent­ing fa­tal­i­ties, it doesn’t pre­vent a user from over­dos­ing in the fu­ture and there have been in­stances of pa­tients over­dos­ing mul­ti­ple times, Brooks said.

He said nalox­one has been in his treat­ment reg­i­ment for at least 25 years, start­ing with the medicine be­ing in­jected in­tra­venously then evolv­ing into an in­tra­mus­cu­lar ver­sion and now a nasal spray, which slows ab­sorp­tion al­low­ing peo­ple to awak­ened calmer and slower com­pared to in­tra­venously.

“It’s a path that we have to save lives and pro­tect peo­ple, but we have to con­tinue on to the next level, to that next state­ment for that in­di­vid­ual,” Brooks said, not­ing paramedics tr y to con­nect pa­tients with treat­ment re­sources. “We’re in a good po­si­tion to ad­dress an over­dose as it oc­curs, but that’s all the re­ac­tive.”

Richard Raftery, a peer re­cov­ery ad­vo­cate with the county’s health depart­ment, said he sees the big­gest is­sue in the county is the in­abil­ity to get im­me­di­ate treat­ment for the peo­ple who have over­dosed. As the ini­tial point of con­tact for many who seek help, Raftery said he has seen pa­tients over­dose again while wait­ing for an open­ing at a treat­ment fa­cil­ity.

“If we could just get to the point where the of­fi­cer goes to this per­son, gives them that ( nalox­one) dose, hands them a card for a peer re­cov­ery ad­vo­cate, they call me and I can get them into detox or a re­hab im­me­di­ately, that’s gonna make a re­ally big impact on our whole is­sue here,” he said. “This is why we keep get­ting that re­peat per­son and then we end up los­ing them.”

Raftery, who is also the pres­i­dent of Voices of Hope for Cecil County, a non­profit re­cov­ery ad­vo­cacy group, said his group re­cently re­ceived per­mis­sion to have a peer in schools be­gin­ning this year.

Mean­while, Perr yville Mayor Jim Eber­hardt ques­tioned the lack of con­se­quences for us­ing il­le­gal sub­stances, which uses too many county re­sources and gives a per­son a pass for us­ing the drug.

Stanko said it is be­ing treated as a med­i­cal prob­lem and not a le­gal prob­lem. He said if they were ar­rested and de­tained in the county de­ten­tion cen­ter, that means they are in the pre- trial stage and can­not uti­lize any avail­able ser­vices.


Cecil County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Richard Brooks (left) talks to the group about nalox­one Thurs­day night.

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