Mayor Angel Taveras and Commissioner of Public Safety Steven M. Paré today announced that members of the Providence Police Department have been trained and equipped to administer Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan, to reverse potentially fatal opioid overdoses.
With a surge in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Providence and across Rhode Island in the early part of this year, Mayor Taveras made equipping the Providence Police Department with the lifesaving drug Narcan a priority of his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Address in April 2014.
"As first responders, Providence Police officers are often on the front lines of helping those in our community who struggle with addiction," said Mayor Taveras. "Training our officers to safely administer Narcan is an important step to save lives and stem the increase of opioid-related overdoses that our region has experienced recently."
Public Safety Commissioner Paré and 352 Providence Police officers have completed a training course and are equipped with the nasal spray form of Narcan. The Providence Police Department is among the first municipal police forces in Rhode Island currently carrying Narcan kits.
"Our job as first responders is to protect and save lives," said Commissioner Paré. "This program gives our officers another tool that could potentially save the life of someone who is struggling with addiction."
Common opiates include heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet. In the event of an overdose, opiates cause dangerously slowed or stopped breathing. Narcan can reverse the effects of opiates and allow the body to resume breathing normally.
Narcan is available over the counter at Walgreens in Rhode Island and is not considered a controlled substance. Narcan has no adverse effects on someone who has not taken an opiate.
Providence Police officers are equipped with Narcan after viewing a digital presentation and several video trainings. The program was funded through a $10,000 federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.
Members of the Providence Fire Department have been previously trained to administer Narcan.
The Providence Police urge people to call 9-1-1 in the event of a possible overdose, no matter the circumstance. In June 2012 the State of Rhode Island passed The Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act or "The Good Sam Law." The Good Sam Law seeks to address the fear that drug users may have of calling the police when a fellow user has overdosed. The law protects "any person who, in good faith… seeks medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose" from possible prosecution.
If you know someone dealing with addiction, please let them know that recovery is possible and treatment is available. Dial 2-1-1* 24 hours a day for a free, anonymous connection to recovery resources or contact Anchor Recovery Community Center at (401) 721-5100 or http://www.AnchorRecovery.com.
If you have any unused or expired medications in your home, dispose of them properly in the Prescription Drug Take Back Bin located at the Providence Public Safety Complex, 325 Washington Street, Providence, RI. The bin is free and anonymous and is open for drop off 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.