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Delray police carrying medicine for heroin ODs

Posted at 8:09 PM, Mar 01, 2016

Police in Delray Beach are the first in Palm Beach County to use a heroin overdose antidote.

Starting today, officers will be able to treat people suffering from an overdose with naloxone, a medicine which stops the affects of heroin; waking up an unresponsive person.

"It's a heroin epidemic, let's not sugarcoat it," Police Chief Jeff Goldman says about the current drug abuse issues in Delray Beach and across the country.

According to police, ten people have died in Delray Beach from apparent heroin overdoses in the first two months of 2016.

During that same time, the city's fire department has used this drug 77 times.

Officials say both number are alarmingly high.

Now, the police department will arm itself with the same tool the fire department is using. The goal is to save lives because police often arrive at medical emergencies before paramedics.

Goldman says so far 32 supervisors with the department are trained to use naloxone. When police get a report of a possible overdose, dispatchers will send a supervisor with a kit to the scene.

Supervisors administer the drug using a nasal spray. It should stop the effects of heroin and buy time for the fire department to transport the patient to the emergency room for more help.

"It will be exciting that will be able to save someone's life, and hopefully we'll be able to turn that individual around. But it's also a sad state that we have to think of stuff like this," Goldman explains.

The Delray Beach Drug Task Force received a grant to supply the police department with 400 kits of the drug and equipment.

Goldman says this is only one way to get a grip on the heroin problem. Aside from life-saving measures like this, the department continues to dedicate officers to enforcing drug laws and arresting dealers.

The department is also educating the community about the dangers of heroin. Additionally, representatives from the police department are raising awareness about the Good Samaritan law. It states you have some immunity if, for example, you call police about a possible overdose right away, rather than trying to hide drugs and then call. 

A law passed last year made it legal for law enforcement officers, among others, to administer naloxone.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office was the first law enforcement agency in Florida to begin using the drug. 

Delray Beach is the first police department in the state to partner with the fire department to train officers about the drug.