Deputies at the Wise County Sheriff’s Office will carry the lifesaving Opioid Antidote Naloxone otherwise known as Narcan. Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said, “We are battling an epidemic of Opioid drug addiction in Southwest Virginia and we have to take drastic measures to make sure we address the drug problem with everything available to us. I think that it is important that we make a valiant effort to give individuals a fighting chance at recovery, Deputies responding to overdose calls are now trained in administering the nasal Narcan. It has affected our communities, children and families and we have to give them some hope for a brighter future.”
Prescription Opioid medication abuse by far has been the biggest drug problem faced in Wise County. Although the Drug Task Force has seen some Heroin in the area it is not the predominant problem like in Northern Virginia. With the release of the pain medication Oxycontin in 1996, area law enforcement has seen a drastic upsurge in drug related crimes and abuse of Opioid pain medication. Prescription pain medication is still the drug that is most abused and easily accessible.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has recently joined the P.A.A.R.I “Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative program working with Law Enforcement and Service Providers that share recovery resources throughout the United States. The P.A.A.R.I program recently received donations from their partners that help distribute Naloxone (Narcan) to Law Enforcement Agencies.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has received enough Narcan to be carried by all Deputies, Investigators, School Resource Officers and Court Security Bailiffs who are all trained to administer the life-saving drug at no cost. Those Deputies responding to a possible Opioid overdose are trained to assess the situation, administer the Narcan and provide life-saving medical First Aid. Deputies received REVIVE Kits and training from the Virginia Department of Health and Behavior Services.
Recently Govern Terry McAuliffe declared the Virginia Opioid Addiction crisis a public health emergency. A public health emergency is an event, either natural or manmade, that creates a health risk to the public and the administration feels there is a current threat to Virginia communities and the economy. The declaration came from State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, in response to the growing number of overdoses attributed to opioid use. Dr. Levine has issued a standing order that allows all Virginians to obtain the drug Naloxone, which can be used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations.
The Sheriff’s Office also received a Community Grant from the Walmart Foundation for $1,250.00 to resupply the Naloxone administered by Deputies responding to overdose calls. “Each box containing two doses of Narcan cost around $143.00. Our budget does not provide for purchase and replacement costs. These donations from P.A.A.R.I and Walmart make this effort possible. We are grateful to them for their generosity.” Oakes said.
Deputies responding to overdose calls and administer the Naloxone will request EMS to transport the victims to the hospital for additional treatment. Unfortunately, the subject may slip back in to the overdose state in about 45 minutes and additional doses may be required to be administered by back up Deputies, EMS or hospital medical staff. Oakes continued, “Every second counts and Deputies are usually the first on scene.”
“Our efforts won’t stop here, Deputies responding will give important information to the victim and their families regarding addiction treatment resources and local support groups. We want families not to fear calling the 911 for help for their loved ones, we want to help”, stated Oakes.
The Sheriff’s Office asks for assistance from the community by keeping unwanted and unused medications out of the hands of children and those abusing medications. They are providing free Medication Disposal System packets along with a secure drop box located in the main lobby at the office at the Justice Center located at 5605 Patriot Drive in Wise. For questions concerning drop off call 276-328-3566.
For more information regarding substance abuse visit www.StopSubstanceAbuse.com