SYCAMORE –Area police officers began training this week to administer Narcan, a heroin and opiate antidote that can save an overdosing patient.
The first Narcan Overdose Prevention Program training includes the county’s largest police forces: the county sheriff’s department, DeKalb police, Sycamore police and Northern Illinois University police. KishHealth Systems and NIU police will lead the training.
DeKalb County Board chair Jeff Metzger, R-Sandwich, wanted to launch the Narcan pilot program after attending a roundtable discussion on drug awareness earlier this year with U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Winfield Republican. After the discussion, Metzger created and has worked with a task force, which included police agencies, county officials and KishHealth Systems, to bring the Narcan program to the county. County officials ordered a nasal spray form of the opiate antidote this week.
In recent years, heroin overdoses have been a concern in DeKalb County, as well as Chicago’s collar counties. Three of DeKalb County’s seven fatal drug overdoses in 2013 were attributed to heroin, with two of the six drug overdoses through August this year coming from heroin, according to records from DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller’s office. Twelve of the 17 fatal heroin overdoses in DeKalb County between January 2010 and September 2014 have occurred in men age 35 or younger, according to a Daily Chronicle review of DeKalb County Coroner’s Office records.
Sycamore police Sgt. Rod Swartzendruber complimented the Narcan program, adding that training began for Sycamore police Wednesday.
“I’m thrilled,” Metzger said. “I’m very excited, not only to bring it to DeKalb County, but to possibly save some lives. I’m thrilled by how fast we were able to put this process together.”
KishHealth System volunteered to cover the cost of equipping participating police officers with Narcan, as well as a refill, since the product has a two-year shelf life, Metzger said. It would cost about $6,000 to equip county-area officers with the product. Metzger said he was looking into donations and other means of funding the project when KishHealth stepped up.
Patrick Gannon, KishHealth System’s EMS medical director and member of the task force, said he is excited that an immediate treatment like Narcan will be available.
“If this can save a couple of lives, it will be worth it,” Gannon said.
Both Metzger and DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said the success rate in neighboring counties is promising. Metzger said DuPage County program, which has saved 18 lives in 19 attempts since it started in January, gave DeKalb County leaders information during the planning process.
Margi Gilmour, director of DeKalb County Court Services, was selected as the director of the program as an addition to her responsibilities. Gilmour, along with county coordinator Mary Supple, will oversee the Narcan program’s initial implementation.
Gilmour and Supple will be in contact with remaining police agencies in the county in the near future to gauge interest. Anyone interested in the program can contact Supple at 815-895-7189 or Gilmour at 815-895-7199.
“We’re really ready to roll out the program and see how it goes,” Metzger said.
• Also called naloxone
• Blocks effects of opiates such as heroin, morphine, oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl, and codeine.
• Can be administered by shot or nasal spray
• Can help patients who show symptoms of overdosing, such as slowed breathing, limpness, vomiting or gurgling.