After early training sessions in January and months of working to get naloxone kits, IU Police Department has received shipments of naloxone for all IU campuses this week.
IUPD worked with the attorney general’s office and the Indiana Naloxone Project to get naloxone distributed to IUPD.
Naloxone allows officers to help save the lives of people who overdose on opioids, IUPD Lt. David Rhodes said.
“When someone goes down from an opioid overdose, they’ll stop breathing,” Rhodes said. “When you administer the naloxone, it can replace the inhibitors that made that happen and get the person breathing again.”
Officers received initial training in January and will be more thoroughly trained to use naloxone in the next week, Rhodes said.
After training, a naloxone kit will be kept in each automated external defibrillator kit in patrol cars for officers to use.
“Our first concern was that we don’t have medical training or that we wouldn’t use the knowledge often enough to use the naloxone kits correctly,” said IUPD Chief Laury Flint. “But this is very simple to use, and it seems to me that anybody could do it, which appears to be the whole idea behind the program.”
Even if naloxone is used on someone who isn’t actually having an opioid overdose, the drug doesn’t harm the individual, Rhodes said.
“I could send naloxone up my own nose at this very moment, and it wouldn’t do anything,” Rhodes said. “It’s a great tool for us to have and is very safe to use.”
According to the Indiana Naloxone Project, naloxone has no potential for addiction or abuse, can be administered with very little training and wears off after about 20 minutes.
Other police departments in the area have had access to naloxone for a while, Flint said.
She said the grants from the attorney general’s office and the Indiana Naloxone Project’s program have made it easier for departments around the state to start using it.
When law enforcement responds to medical cases in Bloomington, emergency medical services usually arrive before IUPD has to provide first-responder care, Flint said. But opioid overdoses are often more time-sensitive than other medical emergencies.
“Time is of the essence in these cases,” Flint said. “In other medical situations, a minute or two to get a professional responder can be fine. But with opioids, a few seconds can make a life or death difference.”
Flint said while the IU campuses haven’t seen many heroin or other opioid overdoses, higher heroin use has become a trend nationwide and in Indiana in recent years.
The naloxone kits serve as a proactive measure for IUPD officers if a similar situation emerges in Bloomington and at IU.
“Right at this moment we don’t have a lot of contact with these overdoses, but there is a returning epidemic of heroin across the country,” Rhodes said. “We live in a city, so it’s only a matter of time.”
Many citizens have a misconception of who opioid overdoses happen to, Rhodes said.
He stressed more than 80 percent of opioid overdoses happen to people who were prescribed pain medication after an injury and have become addicted.
“This can happen to anybody, anytime, anywhere, and the naloxone kits keep us prepared to help all of those people,” Rhodes said. “But in reality, it doesn’t matter what they look like or who they are. This is another thing in our toolbox to help save any life and that’s our job.”