Health officials now want all police officers to carry Narcan while on the job in hopes of preventing opioid overdose deaths in Western New York.
The Erie County Opioid Epidemic Task Force says most local police departments don’t carry the lifesaving drug.
“We have saved countless lies with Narcan,” said Captain Jeff Rinaldo with the Buffalo Police.
It’s a lifesaving tool, one that Buffalo police officers have been carrying for about 3 years.
Captain Jeff Rinaldo says it’s saved so many people during an opioid overdose.
“We know that minutes count when it comes to an overdose, and if we’re in a situation where our officers are the first there, we want them to have the necessary tools to be able to save somebody’s life,” said Captain Rinaldo.
In 2017, there were more than 200 opioid deaths in Erie County.
It’s not required, but health officials are encouraging all police officers to carry Narcan while on patrol.
“Whoever’s there first, it makes sense, just makes sense,” said Debra Smith, a member of the Erie County Opioid Epidemic Task Force.
Most police departments in Western New York don’t carry Narcan — that includes the city of Tonawanda, Town of Tonawanda and the city of Lackawanna.
“We’ve heard that it’s because they’re leaving it to the fire or emergency medical services, when they show up on the scene to administer that medicine,” said Smith.
Debra Smith says she finds that alarming. She lost her son Nathaniel to an overdose in 2015.
“When someone does receive that medicine it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for them to receive education and hope,” said Smith.
Smith says she’s dedicated to encouraging not only police, but people in the community to carry Narcan in order to help save a life.
“To bring this out as much as I can, all of us mothers so that no other family suffers. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” said Smith.
Captain Rinaldo says Buffalo police officers are given a preset dosage of Narcan to carry.
He says the department isn’t paying for it, but that it’s provided by the State Health Department.