UH News

Reversing Overdoses, Stemming a Crisis: UH Parma’s EMS educators train Parma, Parma Hts. Police Departments to administer Narcan in overdoses

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The latest lifesaving weapon in the arsenal of area police departments is deployed with a small atomizer, courtesy of University Hospitals Parma Medical Center.

UH Parma Medical Center’s EMS Training & Disaster Preparedness Institute is training police officers from Parma and Parma Heights to administer Nasal Narcan, a powerful pharmaceutical drug that reverses the effects of heroin and other opioids in minutes. Each officer and sergeant who patrols in these cities will be armed with Narcan, following passage of Ohio House Bill 170 last year that permits police officers and lay people to administer the opioid-reversing drug naloxone (commonly known as Narcan).

“Police, by nature, are spread out over the city and we can oftentimes get to the victim first,” said Parma Police Chief Robert Miller. “We are always called for overdoses, yet we have never had the ability to save a life like this, so I expect it to be very beneficial for our communities.”

Heroin and prescription opioids like Vicodin and oxycodone pose the gravest drug threat, both in Ohio and across the country, according to Joseph M. Pinjuh of the Heroin Action Committee, comprised of federal and local law enforcement officials and health care professionals throughout the U.S. Department of Justice, Northern District of Ohio. In both 2013 and 2014, more people died from heroin overdoses in Cuyahoga County than in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the nation at 9.8 million people. Over the past eight years, 55 heroin deaths occurred in Parma and 14 took place in Parma Hts. Without efforts to allow administration of Narcan more widely, it is expected that these already high overdose numbers throughout the county could be 50 percent higher, Mr. Pinjuh said.

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