In an effort to prevent drug-induced deaths in the community, the Springfield Police Department now has all uniformed officers carrying naloxone nasal spray, also known as its brand name Narcan, on their persons.
Jasmine Bailey, public affairs officer for the Springfield Police Department, said drug overdoses have been a community issue for many years. The recent policy change regarding Narcan is part of a partnership with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in trying to solve health issues affecting the Springfield area.
Narcan is an opioid overdose reversal drug. According to the National Institutes of Health, Narcan binds to opioid receptors which works to reverse and block effects of other opioids. The antagonist can cause withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, sweating, nausea and vomiting.
Any officers carrying Narcan must receive training on how to effectively administer the spray, Bailey said.
Kathryn Wall, press representative of the Greene County Health Department, said police are often the first to respond to a distress call and Narcan is more effective the sooner it is administered. She said when someone is overdosing, their body often forgets to breathe.
Narcan is not a substitute for emergency medical care. Wall said it is used to keep a person alive so emergency responders can get a patient to a hospital.
“Having first responders there with that medication is a huge game changer for our community,” Wall said. “When someone is not breathing, we know that time is an important factor.”
A 2019 Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Assessment published by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said drug-induced deaths have increased each year from 2013 to 2015 and continue to rise.
Wall said the assessment helped the health department identify key community health issues like substance abuse. Hospitals in the Springfield community have responded to these issues by implementing plans to reduce opioid use and abuse.
Mercy Hospital has taken on initiatives to reduce opioids for pain management at their hospital, according to the 2019 health assessment. Burrell Behavioral Health is also working to increase people’s access to their walk-in clinic by having shorter wait times for appointments.
“We aren’t just saving people in the moment; we are connecting them with resources they may need,” Wall said.
Burrell Behavioral Crisis Center is open 24 hours and can help anyone 18 years or older who needs psychiatric care and addiction treatment. It is located at 800 S. Park Avenue. The center also has a 24-hour crisis hotline that can be reached at 1-800-494-7355.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration National Helpline’s phone can be contacted at 1-800-662-4557.
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