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Rushford teams up with Meriden police, and a life is saved

January 25, 2017

Barely a month after receiving training from Rushford on how to properly administer Naloxone, or Narcan, the medication which can help reverse the symptoms of an overdose, Meriden police officers were successfully able to use their training to save the life of a man experiencing an overdose who was found laying unresponsive in the street.

"This one incident alone makes it well worth the training we received," Meriden police Sgt. Darrin McKay said at a press conference Jan. 20 to highlight the partnership between Rushford, the police department and the Meriden Healthy Youth Coalition, which provided grant funding to cover the costs for the training as well as a supply of over 70 Narcan kits to provide to officers.

Though not officially designated as emergency first responders, Meriden police decided to undergo the Narcan training in recognition that officers are often the first ones to arrive at the scene of someone experiencing an overdose, and therefore can make a life-or-death difference in helping an overdose victim.

Police officials said two officers were on patrol in the pre-dawn hours on Jan. 3 when they encountered a man who was apparently unconscious on the ground. The officers noticed drug-related items near the man's body and determined that he was experiencing an overdose. One of the officers, who had taken part in the Narcan training sessions provided by Rushford in November, administered a dose of Narcan nasal spray from one of the kits provided to the the department, but the man did not initially respond. However, after administering a second dose, the man quickly revived and was taken to the hospital, where he received treatment and was able to recover, police said.

"We are so pleased that the close relationship we have developed with the Meriden Police Department has led to such a positive outcome," said Patricia Rehmer, president of the Behavioral Health Network, who added that partnerships with community stakeholders is crucial to the effort to address the ongoing epidemic in opioid abuse. She pointed out that in Connecticut last year, more than 800 people died of drug-related overdoses, a state record and more than double the number of people who died in in automobile accidents.

J. Craig Allen, MD, Rushford medical director, explained how Narcan works to reverse the effects of an opioid or heroin overdose. He said Narcan kits are becoming increasingly available, but can still be relatively expensive at more than $100 per kit, on average.

"We need to make these kits more accesssible so that people can keep them in their homes and other places where they can help make a difference at a moment's notice," he said.

Sgt. McKay thanked Rushford representatives, including Monique Algood, APRN, who provided the training sessions, and Sheryl Sprague, Rushford prevention manager, for showing officers how easy and effective it is to administer the medication. 

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