Pam Tharp 3:03 p.m. EST January 7, 2015
LIBERTY, Ind. – Union County deputies won’t administer anti-narcotic medications to addicts who overdose.
Last month, St. Clair EMS owner Nathan St. Clair suggested county deputies carry Narcan in their cruisers so they could administer the lifesaving anti-narcotic if ambulance crews are on other runs. Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, is used for complete or partial reversal of opioid depression, including respiratory depression, which can be fatal. Sheriff Dale Dishmond told county commissioners Monday that administering Narcan puts deputies at risk and could create a liability for the county if deputies don’t get to the scene in time to save the person. Determining a patient needs that treatment is a medical assessment beyond the scope of officers’ training, he said.
“It’s encouraging the use of heroin, and I’m against it,” Dishmond said. “They make a bad decision, and we put people at risk running lights and sirens to get to them. (Addicts) call dispatch and ask them to bring Narcan. We’re trying to be a deterrent to drug use.” Addicts also might deny to police officers that they’ve used opiates, raising officers’ liability in administering Narcan, Chief Deputy Shawn Tudor said. St. Clair said Narcan won’t harm anyone if it’s not needed and it saves the lives of those who do. Narcan’s $60 per-dose cost also is an issue. If deputies stock and administer the drug, the cost would be a sheriff’s department expense. Currently, the ambulance service buys Narcan, but it often can’t collect any money for those runs. Overdose numbers in Union County were down in December, with only one call, down from six in October.