Atlantic County will soon have a policy in place to allow municipal police departments to use the heroin-overdose antidote Narcan.
“We are going to authorize the use of Narcan in Atlantic County,” acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said Friday.
A policy for the use is expected within the next couple of weeks and then each department can make its own decision on whether to purchase the kits, which initially run at $50 each. Forfeiture funds can be used, McClain said.
Galloway Township police Chief Pat Moran said his department would be interested in adding the Narcan to its arsenal.
“I anticipate it’s going to be a very good program and it’s probably going to save some lives,” he said.
“I don’t know enough about the rules yet,” said Ventnor police Chief Michael Miller. “Since we are a full-service community, I would want to consult with our fire chief to evaluate the best method of administering it.”
It has not been discussed yet In Pleasantville, Chief Jose Ruiz said, adding that there are some issues that could be a concern, including how to store it.
“The problematic part will be this is a medicine and it has to be maintained within certain temperatures,” McClain explained. “This isn’t the kind of thing where you put it in a medical kit and just carry it around until you need it.”
Municipalities also need a doctor to prescribe the drug, he said.
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato — who has led the movement for the treatment — did a presentation on Narcan at the monthly prosecutors meeting Tuesday. Ocean and Monmouth counties are pilot programs for Narcan, which is the brand name for the drug naloxone.
Unlike Ocean County, McClain said many of Atlantic County’s overdoses seem to be less from pure heroin and instead are a “cocktail of different substances.”
“But that’s not to say that perhaps the substance that really suppressed the breathing and heart rate isn’t heroin-related,” he said. “(The Narcan) really doesn’t seem to have any bad immediate side effects, so whatever it can do to counteract the opiate effect will be beneficial.”
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian has said he would like to see the kits go to those beyond law enforcement, including firefighters and lifeguards, who are often first-responders on such scenes.
That would be for the city to work out, McClain said, since his office would only have the power to approve for law enforcement. Lifeguards and firefighters who are also emergency medical technicians also should have no problem carrying the kits.
“We’ll look to see what the best practices are,” Guardian Chief of Staff Chris Filiciello said.
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