Thanks to a partnership with the Clallam County Health Department, Clallam County Sheriff’s deputies will begin carrying naloxone — an opiate overdose antidote often known by its brand name Narcan that can rapidly reverse overdoses to prescription pain killers or heroin.
“The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office is proud to join other first responders in the state who have been trained and equipped with naloxone to help anyone in distress due to an opioid overdose,” Clallam Sheriff Bill Benedict said.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Department joins the Port Angeles Police Department, Forks Police Department, and the Makah, Lower Elwha and Quileute Tribal Police, who already carry the drug and have documented numerous lives saved since starting their programs.
“One of the most important things about naloxone is how quickly it’s given,” Clallam County Health Officer Allison Berry Unthank said.
“The longer a person is unconscious due to an overdose, the more brain function they lose, and the more likely they are to die,” she said.
Staff Sgt. Sean Madison with Sequim Police Department said department leaders explored equipping local police officers with Narcan before but have no plans to use it in the near future.
Madison said Sequim officers do not handle many opioid overdoses in the City of Sequim if they arrive on the scene prior to crews with Clallam County Fire District 3, and that firefighter/EMTs arrive on scene quickly enough to take over in an overdose situation.
“We have a terrific response from the fire department that they’re always within a minute or two behind us,” Madison said, “whereas the sheriff’s office may have 20-30 minutes (in its coverage area) before a medical team arrives.”
Madison said police leaders feel if they do arrive before medical officials then they can “keep someone breathing for (1-2 minutes) using the equipment and training that we already have.”
In the rural areas like the West End, Sheriff’s Office deputies are often some of the first responders to emergency incidents of all kinds, including overdoses.
“We want to make sure that everyone in our county has access to this life-saving medicine when they need it, and equipping all our first responders with these tools is an essential first step in that effort,” Unthank said.
For more information about preventing overdoses, ask a health care provider or call the Clallam County Health Department at 360-417-2303.