- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Police officers in South Bend are learning how to administer a drug that can save lives by reversing the effects of heroin and prescription painkiller overdoses.

On Monday, training was held for a group of officers at the South Bend Police Department. The officers first learned how to identify an overdose, and then they received a package of naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote also known as Narcan, and learned how to administer the aerosol spray nasally.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are beginning to equip officers with naloxone, which is touted as a life-saving antidote, because they often arrive at the scene before paramedics.

“A lot of times we get to these scenes and there is not a whole lot that we can do as police officers until the medics get there,” said South Bend officer Robert Anton, who underwent training on Monday.

The move comes amid record numbers of overdose deaths nationwide, the South Bend Tribune (https://bit.ly/1EBkEOz ) reported.

While announcing plans to form a statewide task force on drug abuse, Gov. Mike Pence said on Tuesday that overdose deaths in Indiana have increase by 500 percent from 1999 to 2009. He said Indiana now ranks 16th in the nation in overdose deaths.

At least 16 overdose deaths have occurred in St. Joseph County so far this year, compared to 11 fatal overdoes in the first half of 2014, according to County Coroner Randy Magdalinski. Only two of this year’s deaths were the result of an overdose on painkiller oxycodone and the other 14 were the result of heroin overdoses.

“The heroin is more dominant in our area, without a doubt,” Magdalinski said. “We have more drug deaths than we do homicides.”

Since mid-August, 170 South Bend police officers have received naloxone training, said police department spokesman Capt. Robert Hammer. Three officers who underwent training on Thursday utilized their new knowledge early Friday to save a man’s life, he said.

“It was effective,” Hammer said. “The guy woke up and EMS came in and took over. … He was pretty appreciative.”


Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com

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