The Kern County Sheriff's Department is training and equipping deputies with Nasal Naloxone (Narcan) in hopes of reducing the number of deaths caused by opioid (morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone, vicodin) overdoses.
"In Kern County we see on average about 40 deaths due to opioid overdoses per year, and one death is way too many," said Lt. Doug Jauch.
According to KCSO there are 680 law enforcement agencies nationwide that have a Narcan program, three of which are in California. KCSO will become the fourth department in California to carry Nasal Naloxone (Narcan).
"Well we wanted to be the first, but we'll take the fourth," said Sheriff Donny Youngblood.
KCSO said it hopes with deputies dispersed around the county carrying Nasal Naloxone (Narcan), they have the opportunity to cut down on the time it may take for paramedics to arrive.
"The hopes are that when that call comes out for an overdose that one of those deputies may very well be closer than an ambulance or fire, and they'll be able to get there," said Lt. Jauch. "The more we can reduce the amount of time of our arrival the better chance for a success of saving that person."
Deputies are trained on how to use the Nasal Naloxone (Narcan). The deputies first screw in the vial of Naloxone (Narcan) and then put the atomizer on, next they dispense half of the dosage in one nostril and the other half in the other nostril. KCSO said within one to three minutes the person should become alert again.
KCSO said the person who overdosed will most likely still need medical treatment even after regaining consciousness.
"We're going to temporarily fix the problem. So we're going to restore breathing, we're going to restore their conscious level back, they're going to be able to breathe on their own, talk to us. But there could be a possibility that that reverses the effects 30-90 minutes down the road where they go back into the actual overdose," said Brent Burton, a former paramedic and reserve deputy sheriff with KCSO. "So it's going to imperative that EMS arrives on scene with the paramedics and from there, they're transported to a local hospital so they can get further treatment."
KCSO said if the Narcan is given to someone who is not experiencing an overdose, there will be no side effects.
To fund the program, it initially costs the Sheriff's department $13,000 for 235 kits and the Narcan has a shelf life of 18 months.
After 18 months, KCSO will have to replace the Narcan, but not the whole kit, which will cost around $8,500.
"The fact of the matter is at 8,000 dollars a year that's a drop in the bucket that will never be missed out of our budget, so the money is not a factor as far as, when it comes to saving lives," said Sheriff Youngblood.
Sheriff Youngblood said he can't say whether or not the person who overdosed will be arrested because each case will be different.
"The officers have discretion on how they handle these cases and we'll leave that to them," said Sheriff Youngblood.
So far 20 deputies have been trained and will receive their Nasal Naloxone this week. The trained deputies all work in different areas of Kern County.
The rest of the deputies will be trained this year.