GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Police and EMTs in the township are working to become the first emergency responders in Atlantic County to begin carrying the lifesaving heroin antidote Narcan.
Police Chief Patrick Moran and Chief Chuck Uhl of Galloway Ambulance are entering into a partnership to conduct training to administer the drug, they said Wednesday.
Last year, the township saw about 70 opiate overdoses in which Narcan could have been used, Uhl said.
Overdoses in Galloway have slowed down over the last year, but when they do occur they are typically taking place at private residences, Moran said.
Galloway Ambulance is expected to receive a shipment of Narcan soon and could be carrying the drug as soon as this weekend, Uhl said.
“Last month, the waiver from the state came down on a Thursday afternoon for EMTs (to carry and administer Narcan) and we were on the phone with our medical director after the announcement and then we were in Narcan training at Absegami High School that Saturday,” Uhl said.
The ambulance squad in Galloway is also planning to absorb the cost of Narcan into its budget to arm its members and police patrol officers, Uhl said.
The nasal spray drug costs about $25 a dose — four dollars for the injector and about $21 for the Narcan drug itself.
Earlier this month, acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain announced a policy would be developed to allow the county’s 17 municipal police departments to carry and administer Narcan.
"The two counties that are presently dispensing Narcan are pilot programs," McClain explained Wednesday, referring to Ocean and Monmouth counties. "We have a policy ready to go, we are simply waiting for the Attorney General's Office to judge the success of the pilot program and give us a green light to implement the policy."
About 40 patrol officers in the Galloway Police Department will carry Narcan, also known as naxolone, once training is completed, Moran said.
This will help police officers who usually arrive at overdose 911 calls before an ambulance, Moran said.
“It’s the same deal as with the AED (automated external defibrillator). Whenever we get an unconscious call and police officers have those in their cars. Galloway is a large municipality, so there are usually more officers on the road than ambulances,” Uhl said.
Fulltime patrol officers and the department’s Class II officers with be trained with EMTs to administer Narcan through Cooper Medical Center, Moran said.
“We have between 36 and 40 officers on patrol, and the goal is to start out with a couple officers on each of the four squads carrying the drug,” he said.
The training for the police officers could cost some overtime pay or training funding but it is money included in the police budget, he said.
“Depending on how quick we can get the training completed, I would like to roll out some units with Narcan as soon as possible. I think any tool that would help save a life we should have,” Moran said.
While there is a need for emergency responders to carry Narcan in Galloway, the demand doesn’t compare to Ocean County’s heroin overdose crisis, Uhl said.
“Ocean County police are rocking and rolling up there with Narcan now, and I know that Galloway police will do a great job too,” he said.
Earlier this month, Ocean County police departments went on the road with Narcan in their patrol vehicles after the launch of pilot program in Ocean and Monmouth counties announced by Gov. Chris Christie.
Last week, police officers in several Ocean County municipalities used the drug successfully on seven overdose victims.
Staff writer Lynda Cohen contributed to this report.
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