Bennington officers now carry Narcan
BENNINGTON — When police responded to an woman laying unresponsive on a sidewalk early Tuesday, a concerned passersby had already begun administering CPR.
The first Bennington officer on scene, Amanda Knox, knew the woman was having an overdose from opioids and quickly administered an antidote.
Officers with the Bennington Police Department now carry Narcan, the drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
The incident took place at about 12:17 a.m. Tuesday morning in the 800 block of Main Street. It was the first instance that the nasal spray had been administered by an officer, according to Chief Paul Doucette.
"Using Narcan like Officer Knox did obviously saved a life," he said. "I'm proud of her and officers working last night who had the ability to recognize signs of opioid overdose."
Nasal naloxone hydrochloride — known by the trade name Narcan — reverses the effects of an overdose. When it's sprayed into the nose of a person who has overdosed, the medication blocks the opioids and restores normal breathing, according to DOH.
The highly addictive drugs include pain killers like oxycodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl; street drugs like heroin; as well as methadone, which is used to treat opioid addiction.
In December, Bennington officers were trained on and took delivery of about 40 units of 4 mg Narcan from the state Department of Health, which funded the effort at no cost to the Bennington police, Doucette said. Each small bottle costs about $30 each.
"It's important for life safety," he said. "We've seen several recent overdoses."
The department has relied on Bennington Rescue Squad. "But it's time for us to beginning to carry Narcan, based on the fact that we're having overdoses and sometimes the squad is busy."
To work, it must be administered as quickly as possible after an overdose.
"If the Rescue Squad members are out on another call, we can administer Narcan much quicker and wait for them to respond for other things that must be done," Doucette said.
Paramedics still respond when police use Narcan on a person who has overdosed because they may need follow-up medical attention.
Law enforcement, Doucette, is more than writing tickets and making arrests. "Police are being asked to do more. We respond with the squad on a regular basis... overdoses, drug issues, cardiac arrests."
"We are carrying more first aid supplies now than we ever have. It's absolutely necessary."
Ed Damon can be reached at email@example.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.
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