“We beat the ambulance to overdose cases about 30 percent of the time,” he said.
“Generally speaking in an overdose death involving heroin or any other prescription med in it that has an opiate base to it, your breathing slows down,” Fitch pointed out. “If you overdose, your breathing stops.”
He said he has seen the results after medics injected a victim with Naloxone, also known as Narcan.
“Basically, what Naloxone does is it restores your breathing,” Fitch said. “They will come out of it pretty quickly and act like nothing has happened. I mean start having a conversation again.”
Fitch learned about a pilot program that allowed Quincy, Massachusetts police to carry Naloxone, also known as Narcan, in their cruisers. That was in 2010, when the only way to administer the drug was through an injection.
“Since then,” he explained. “[Researchers] have developed a nasal spray much like you see the flu vaccine administered.”
He recalled the story of a Quincy, Massachusetts officer who was recently flagged down by a driver. That driver had a family member in the backseat who was overdosing on heroin. The officer gave the spray and saved the victim.
Fitch said he is ready to work with the local chapter of the National Coalition on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. He plans to seek training for his officers from the St. Louis County Health Department.
“The only other health department that is that size is the state health department,” he said. “So, we would hope that if we work out these protocols with the County health department, that the state would be okay with that.”
Read more from the St. Louis Post Dispatch: St. Louis County police chief wants to carry heroin antidote in cars