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July 14, 2014

Local police trained to use of heroin antidote

PLATTSBURGH — Many area police agencies now have the training they need to give a life-saving medication in the case of heroin overdose.

Naloxone (brand name Narcan) not only works to reverse the effects of the drug but also prescription medication such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, which, like heroin, are opioids.

Fifty-three officers from 11 agencies in Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence and Warren counties trained at classes held at the South Plattsburgh Fire Department.

Among the local police departments that attended were Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. 

State Police, SUNY Plattsburgh University Police and sheriff’s departments from Clinton and Essex counties were also at the training.

There has been a shift from illegal use of prescription drugs to illicit drugs like heroin, State Police said, since pharmaceutical companies have made it more difficult for people to get high on the medications.

And laws have made the drugs less accessible to addicts.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a drug-overdose death occurs every 19 minutes, and nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers.

‘EASY TO OVERDOSE’

The training, which started in April, is part of a approximately $500,000 state-funded initiative to combat the alarming increase in heroin use that police say continues to climb.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal is to eventually have all first responders, including EMTs and firefighters, trained on how to use the drug, said Janine Kava, director of public information for the State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

Before Cuomo signed the new package of bills last month, officers needed to be issued a prescription to carry the drug, State Police Col. Deborah Campbell said.

‘FIRST STEP’

Officers who took the training were sent back to their departments with Narcan kits paid for by the state with assistance from the Harm Reduction Coalition.

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