Hamilton County issues Narcan to deputies to protect against Fen - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton County issues Narcan to deputies to protect against Fentanyl exposure

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

To protect deputies who might come into contact with Fentanyl, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has armed deputies with Narcan. It's also known as naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opiate/opioid overdose and can be a life-saving drug, according to a news release.

Fentanyl is an opioid that is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Since deputies now have Narcan at their disposal, they can help combat the growing drug overdose problem and also protect themselves.

"It used to be meth. Now it's heroin or Fentanyl or both, a combination. We check them for signs of life, usually it's shallow breathing and or not breathing and if that is the case, then we administer the Narcan," Cpl. Matthew Purvis of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office said.

When it's in powder form, Fentanyl can be absorbed through your skin and accidentally inhaled. Each deputy who patrols the streets in Hamilton County now has Narcan to not only save lives, but to protect themselves from exposure to the dangerous drug.

"It's at an epidemic stage. It's not something that you run into occasionally, it's something that you see regularly," Ken Wilkerson, Hamilton County's EMS Director said.

Wilkerson said fentanyl and heroin laced with fentanyl is becoming more common in overdose cases. His first responders used Narcan 170 times by this time last year and now they've used it 268 times, that's about a 60% increase.

"Because of the availability of opiates, because of the increase in overdose activities, illicit narcotic usage, a myriad of reasons," Wilkerson said.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has had Narcan for about a month. Just this past week, a traffic investigator used it on a woman who was possibly overdosing on drugs.

Deputies say by having this, they can act immediately if they get to the scene before paramedics.

"I've been on calls before or in the past where we've had this where we possibly could have used it or would have used it and I'm just happy to have this medicine to try and help people," Cpl. Purvis said.

HCSO bought 176 kits of Narcan for around $46 a piece. That totals to $8,158.24, which is coming out of the county's drug forfeiture fund.

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