MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Meriden police are addressing the opioid epidemic. Officers spent part of Thursday training on how to use Narcan, which can block the effects of opioids and save lives. They will soon be carrying Narcan nasal spray while on duty. On Thursday they learned the symptoms of an overdose
and how to administer Narcan.
“This is huge to get officers outfitted with the Narcan because in just a matter of seconds we can lose a life or save a life,” said Sgt. Darrin McKay of the Meriden Police Department.
Officers have been training for more than a week. Clinicians from Rushford, an addiction and mental health treatment center, instructed them. Rushford also helped with the funding for the Narcan kits.
“I believe we’ve got upwards of 90 donated to us so that we can outfit every one of our patrol officers out in the street,” said McKay.
Meriden police are not required by law to carry Narcan, since firefighters and EMS crews are the designated first responders when there’s an overdose. However, opioid abuse is up across the state and police are sometimes the first responders to arrive.
“We’ve had our share of heroin overdoses in town for years,” said McKay.
Many treatment centers in the area – like Rushford – have also recently noticed an increase in opioid addiction.
“Meriden is one of the top 25 communities in the state for opioid overdoses,” said Sheryl Sprague, Manager of Prevention and Wellness at Rushford. “I think it’s number 14.”
Clinicians say the number of overdoses is doubling every year. They want all responders to be prepared, and for the public to know they’re there to help.
“It opens up communication,” said Sprague. “The police can be seen more as partners where it’s not adversarial.”
Police are expecting all officers to be trained and to start carrying Narcan while on duty in the next week or two.