Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association Donates Overdose Antidote to Deputies
To help combat the opioid epidemic, the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association donated 1,800 doses of Narcan to deputies across the state.
In Oklahoma, prescription drug overdoses kill more people than car crashes, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. In fact, nearly 1,000 people die each year in the state from overdoses, according to Lori Carter, director of legislative affairs at the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office.
To help in the fight against the opioid epidemic, the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association is donating 1,800 doses of opiate antidote Narcan to deputies around the state. That way, each of the state’s 1,800 full-time deputies will have at least one dose. With each donation, OSA is also providing a two-hour training to teach deputies how to administer the antidote.
OSA Executive Director Ray McNair said the group became convinced of its need to do something to help, especially after partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the end of 2016 in the administration of a federal grant that gave sheriff’s offices doses of opiate antidote and training.
“We quickly realized that, unfortunately, their grant funding just did not provide enough product,” McNair said. “We were getting it into the hands of sheriffs, but he may have 25 employees, and you would only get five or six doses.”
McNair also explained that Oklahoma is a primarily rural state, and many times its deputies are the first responders. “And if they’re trained, they should be able to recognize an overdose and administer the Narcan spray,” McNair said.
In addition to providing 1,800 doses to full-time deputies, OSA is working to purchase a similar amount for the state’s reserve deputies. “They fill a role that’s often the same as a full-time deputy, even though they’re volunteers,” McNair said. OSA also wants to donate doses to jail administrators, in case someone were to overdose during the booking process.
When all is said and done, McNair expects OSA will donate around 4,000 doses of Narcan.
With these donations, OSA hopes to better protect its first responders and the citizens of Oklahoma. “You certainly want whoever shows up on the scene first to have the product, because we’ve seen within 30 seconds of administering it, a person snaps right out of that near-death scenario,” McNair said. “Some people have criticized us for doing it; some people have patted us on the back. … We just think it’s the right thing to do.”
An example of the opioid remedy Narcan. (Handout photo)