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story.lead_photo.caption Assistant Chief Alice Fulk (right) speaks to the media Monday at Little Rock’s main police station downtown to announce that Little Rock police have acquired 160 Narcan kits for officers to use in opioid overdoses. Next to Fulk are state Drug Director Kirk Lane (left) and officer Robert Mourot. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

Starting Thursday, most patrol officers in Little Rock will have the tools to stabilize breathing and save the life of someone in the throes of a drug overdose.

Through donations, the city's Police Department has acquired 160 Narcan kits, assistant chief Alice Fulk said during a Monday news conference.

Narcan is the brand name of the anti-opioid medication naloxone, which counteracts the effects of a narcotic overdose.

"Our first priority is to stabilize breathing and restore life. Our second priority is to follow up and investigate where the narcotic came from to prevent use by other people, because obviously, the person who overdosed is not the only one who got it from that source," Fulk said.

The department received 100 kits from the National Sheriffs' Association and funds for 60 more kits from private donors, many of whom have been personally affected by substance abuse, she said.

On Thursday, an hourlong training session will prepare about 160 of the department's roughly 200 patrol officers to administer the medication and care for the person who overdosed, she said.

This skill is vital for patrol officers, Fulk noted, because those officers often arrive at the scene before emergency medical personnel.

The department asked Little Rock's patrol captains to submit names of officers to carry Narcan. The kits cost at least $75 each and include two spray canisters of the medication, which have a shelf life of about two years.

Fulk said the department is looking for other ways to pay to equip the rest of Little Rock's police force, a total of more than 500 officers. Lack of funding is why the life-saving drug has not been in use more in Little Rock, she said.

Kirk Lane, who became the state drug director in July and before that served as Benton's police chief, said Narcan is especially vital in cases in which people mix heroin with fentanyl. Fentanyl abuse is on the upswing in Arkansas. The synthetic painkiller is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

"It can kill almost instantly," Lane said.

Little Rock will join several other law enforcement agencies in central Arkansas that have begun using the anti-opioid medication in recent years.

The Benton Police Department was the first law enforcement agency in the state to carry naloxone, starting in late 2015. The North Little Rock Police Department and the Maumelle Police Department have also received Narcan, according to September reports.

The number of overdose deaths in the state went from 153 in 2011 to 227 in 2015, a 48 percent increase. The department tallied 958 fatalities in that five-year period. The state Health Department has recorded a rising number of overdose fatalities in recent years.

Metro on 11/14/2017

Print Headline: LR police to get 160 kits to aid overdosed

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