CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Police officers in Cedar Rapids have started carrying NARCAN, the opioid-reversing drug that has the potential to save lives of people who overdose.
Since officers are usually the first people at the scene, having officers who can administer naloxone hydrochloride, or NARCAN, through a nasal spray can save time and even potentially a life.
Officers in Linn County responded to 34 suspected opioid overdoses between January 1 and September 11.
The Medical Examiner's Office says through mid-September in Linn County there have been 20 opioid overdose deaths.
Since 2015, opioid overdose deaths have been on the rise in Linn County.
In 2015, there were 20 opioid overdose deaths and approximately 330 hospital admissions. Two years later, in 2017, data found there were 28 opioid deaths in Linn County and more than 1,000 hospital admissions for suspected opioid/heroin overdoses.
Officers say NARCAN can help addicts, and themselves. Officer Lindsay Schrader says, "Officers when they handcuff someone, or they search a vehicle, and they get a white powder, they actually can overdose on that . So it's a tool we can use to help protect ourselves as well."
Tim McGullam works with the Area Substance Abuse Council. He is in recovery, and has had NARCAN used on him several times. He supports police having it.
He says, "So now that Cedar Rapids Police are equipped with NARCAN, they'll be able to administer NARCAN as well..... because we know that it comes down to minutes when a person is overdosing."
Police have had NARCAN for a month, and have not had to use it.