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Health, Science & Environment

Naloxone Kits Help Utah Law Enforcement Save 500 Lives From Overdoses

Hand and small glass dose of naloxone.
Kelsie Moore / KUER
/
Utah police officers save lives from overdoses with Naloxone kits.

Utah Naloxone announced Monday, law enforcement agencies reported saving 500 lives from overdoses since 2016. The group has partnered with agencies to equip them with naloxone kits which reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

The Lehi City Police Department helped the non-profit organization reach the milestone saving seven lives since December 2020.

During the pandemic, there was an increase in opioid related deaths nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Utah saw a 8.2% jump in drug overdose related deaths from November 2019-2020.

Lt. Kenny Rose, with the Lehi Police Department, said he realized there was a big need for them to partner with Utah Naloxone.

Rose said officers would normally have to wait until medical personnel got there to help someone experiencing an overdose.

“We were powerless to help them,” he said. “Usually we can beat the fire department and medical personnel there by minutes, which in cases of an overdose counts. [It] counts heavily towards the outcome.”

Rose said there’s been a shift in the way officers are being taught to respond to crisis calls.

“With mental health and CIT in Lehi, I think enforcement has taken a less prominent role and it's more of a response to get the person resources and help,” Rose said.

He said sometimes someone who’s struggling just needs assistance.

Dr. Jennifer Plumb, medical director of Utah Naloxone, conducts training statewide on the overdose rescue medication and distributes free kits throughout communities.

Since she started training law enforcement in 2016 she said there’s been a shift in attitudes from officers towards addiction and stigma.

“There's been kind of this culture shift that's happened within agencies because you really cannot help but be bonded to somebody whose life you just saved there,” she said.

Plumb said she used to have officers who were dismissive of these kinds of training. Now, she'll get calls from them telling her how they saved someone’s life with the training she taught them.

On Aug. 31, Utah Naloxone will hold a training online to teach people how to save someone who may have overdosed.

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