DuPage County cops to be equipped with heroin overdose antidote - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

DuPage County cops to be trained, equipped with heroin overdose antidote

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Police officers are all trained to use their guns to save lives, but in DuPage County, officers in every police department are learning how to use another lifesaving tool.

That tool would be Narcan, or Naloxone. It's a powerful drug that can be administered through a nasal spray or injected. It stops the effects of heroin or other opiates, and can prevent overdoses.

Villa Park Police officer Jeff Runge has previously responded to heroin overdose calls, and is glad he will now have the ability to help.

"I think it changes it big-time. I did feel helpless, not being able to help. My first one was actually a 15-year-old girl that OD'd on heroin, and as I stood there waiting for the fireman, I did feel very helpless," said Runge.

Officers are being trained to administer Narcan because sometimes they arrive on scene before paramedics. In an overdose situation, every minute counts.

The DuPage County Health Department is providing $40,000 to pay for the program.

"We've certainly have a paradigm shift in the county, in law enforcement, this is about saving lives, not arresting people," said Villa Park Police Chief Robert Pavelchik.

With nearly 60 heroin overdose deaths in DuPage County since 2012, leaders say it's not about condoning the drug use, but being proactive against it.

"Having someone die is not the proper way to start a rehabilitation program. This is a medical disease addiction, and should be treated by rehabilitating the person," said DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen.

The DuPage County Sheriff's Department armed their officers with Narcan in January. The goal of this program is to have every officer in every police department in DuPage County equipped and trained by May.

Click HERE to read more about the Narcan program.

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