SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As of Wednesday, the Springfield Police Department has saved 378 lives in the last three years, according to Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood.

This is in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day. This day serves as a way to raise awareness about deadly and non-deadly overdoses, educate the public, and encourage action and discussion around overdose prevention.

An initiative from Superintendent Clapprood is to outfit Springfield Police officers with nasal Naloxone. Since, March 19, 2019, the officer began carrying the opioid reversal drug. Tuesday marked the 378th life-saving dose from officers.

Springfield Police stated in a news release, “Narcan, an opioid antagonist, can quickly reverse the effects of a potentially fatal painkiller or heroin overdose by binding to opioid receptors and reversing or blocking the effects of other opioids, quickly restoring normal breathing. Narcan is not dangerous if administered to a person who is not overdosing and it has no potential for abuse.”

“On Overdose Awareness Day it is important to remember the individuals who have lost their lives due to the opioid crisis and their families who continue to grieve.  It is also important to recognize our officers, firefighters and paramedics in this city who have saved hundreds of lives by administering Narcan in the crucial timeframe where someone is suffering from the effects of an opioid overdose.  Equipping officers with Narcan became a clear and urgent need and continues to be an important lifesaving tool,” Superintendent Clapprood added.  “Saving more than 375 lives using this medication is an outstanding achievement and I am proud of the difference this program is making in our community as we continue to fight the opioid epidemic here in Springfield.”

There were about 93,000 predicted overdose deaths in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released provisional overdose death counts in July. This is a 29% increase from 72,000 deaths in 2019.

To administer proper Narcan doses and disposal methods after a dose is given, officers are taught during the police academy. In 2019 the program began and each year it continues through the Hampden District’s Attorney’s Office grant funding. The funding has been able to provide Narcan for police and fire departments in the county, including the Springfield Police Department.

“God Bless our brave and dedicated men and women of the Springfield Police Department. Day in and day out our SPD officers continue to do their job of serving and protecting our community. This has never been more evident than with the increase in opioid-related overdoses,” Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said. “Thanks to our SPD carrying Narcan, they can immediately respond to these unfortunate situations and save lives and just as important, steer them towards recovery program assistance. Since SPD started carrying Narcan in their vehicles over 375 lives have been saved, a testament to their selfless service to our community and those in need.”