Prosecutor’s Office Implements Program to Prevent Fatal Heroin and Opiate Overdoses

NarcanMorris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp announces the formal launch of a Nasal Narcan® (Naxolone) program in Morris County that will train and equip Morris County police officers to administer the antidote Narcan® to persons suffering from an overdose of heroin or prescription Opiates.

The Morris County Narcan® Program is a partnership between the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, municipal police departments and Atlantic Ambulance Corporation.

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office arranged with Atlantic Ambulance Corporation to provide training and medical oversight to all participating Morris County municipal police departments that opt to participate in the Narcan® Program.

This training commenced with 54 police officers attending a training class at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy. Over the next few months participating police departments will have their officers trained in the use of the life saving antidote.

Earlier this year, a pilot Naxolone program was authorized by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office in South Jersey. The program has been credited with saving numerous lives. Upon receiving authorization for a state-wide implementation the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office partnered with Atlantic Ambulance Corporation to develop a Standard Operating Procedure and Training Protocol, modeled after the successful South Jersey program, that will assist Morris County municipal police departments in deploying this life saving antidote into our communities.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that can be used to counter the effects of opiate overdose. There are no reported complications from the administration of the antidote. Naloxone displaces opioids from the receptors in the brain that control the central nervous system and respiratory system. An aerosol form of naloxone, Narcan® is administered nasally through use of a syringe-atomizer.

In Morris County, trained and certified police officers will be provided equipment for use in administering the drug, including medical gloves, syringe-atomizer, and a facemask for rescue breathing.

Unfortunately, police officers are encountering significant numbers of overdoses from opiates in the form of heroin, morphine, methadone, codeine, oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet® and Percodan®) and hydrocodone (Vicodin®). In 2013 Governor Christie signed the Overdose Prevention Act (P.L. 2013 c.46). The Act eliminates civil liability for both health care professionals dispensing Narcan® and for “trained” individuals administering the drug and is the foundation legislation that allows law enforcement officers to carry the antidote.

Prosecutor Knapp stated: “The heroin in our communities is at a historically high potency level resulting in many overdoses. Narcan®, is another tool that will be deployed by our law enforcement community to tackle this potent poison. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is taking a dynamic approach to combating our opiate epidemic. We will continue to increase our narcotics enforcement efforts that target drug dealers spreading poison into our communities. However, we must also deploy tools like Narcan® to confront this state-wide narcotics epidemic and help prevent the unnecessary deaths of citizens suffering with opiate addictions.”

Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp wishes to thank Atlantic Ambulance Corporation and specifically their Education Coordinator, Rory McGuinness, MICP, CCEMTP.

Any inquiries can be directed to First Assistant Morris County Prosecutor Thomas Zelante at (973) 285-6252 or tzelante@co.morris.nj.us

 

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