SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – According to Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood, the Springfield Police Department has reached the milestone of saving over 250 lives with their ongoing Narcan program.
As of Tuesday, which commemorates International Overdose Awareness Day, the department has currently saved 264 lives. The program started in in March of 2019 with officers carrying nasal Naloxone, the drug in Narcan, to prevent death from overdose.
“With evidence that opioid-related overdose deaths were affecting our community and increasing at appalling rates in the several years prior to starting the program, equipping officers with Narcan became a clear and urgent need and continues to be an important lifesaving tool. Having Narcan in an officer’s patrol car and immediately at their disposal can save crucial seconds in a situation where someone is suffering the effects of an opioid overdose,” Commissioner Clapprood said. “Saving 250 lives using this medication is an outstanding achievement and I am proud of the difference this program is making in our community. We are continuing to fight the opioid epidemic here in Springfield, and it is important to not only bring awareness to this medication that has saved many lives in our city, but also to those lives that have been lost to addiction, especially on this Overdose Awareness Day.”
Opioid-related deaths that happened in Springfield more than tripled between 2014 and 2018, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). Data also showed that opioid related deaths almost doubled between 2017 and 2018. Commissioner Clapprood in a statement said that the implementation of the Narcan program in Springfield and committing funding to purchase the medication was one of the first and more important initiatives she has started.
Narcan is an opioid antagonist; it can quickly reverse the effects of a potentially fatal overdose by binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of other opioids. The drug is known to quickly restore normal breathing in overdose victims. Narcan considered to not be dangerous if administered to a person who is not overdosing and has no potential for abuse.
Narcan is attached to the AED in every car used by the department so that each of the roughly 500 officers have access to Narcan for emergency use. Narcan has also been made available to all bureaus and is stationed throughout the public safety complex.
“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 250 lives have been saved, a testament to their selfless service to our community and those in need.”