Fort Kent police now carrying Narcan
FORT KENT, Maine — Officers with the Fort Kent Police Department are now carrying the opioid antidote Narcan, and have received training to administer the medication that can save the lives of individuals in the midst of a drug overdose.
Narcan is one of three FDA approved formulations of naloxone medications and is administered as a nasal spray.
“It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Last week, full-time officers with the FKPD underwent training in the use of Narcan. Ambulance Service Inc. paramedics conducted the training session at the Fort Kent Municipal Building. The state attorney general’s office provided doses of Narcan free of charge to the department.
“A lot of times, law enforcement officers are the first on the scene of a drug overdose, even before an ambulance arrives,” said Fort Kent Police Chief Tom Pelletier. “We have armed our officers with Narcan in the case that they are the first responders to an opioid overdose. If we can assist in preventing the death of an overdose victim, we want to do that.”
He said another reason to have the medication handy is to protect the officers themselves.
“There have been cases across the country where officers have accidentally been exposed to lethal doses of the opioid fentanyl,” Pelletier said. “Just by having contact with fentanyl the officer could be at risk of an overdose.”
The police chief said opioid related drug overdoses have been on the rise in the St. John Valley.
“For many years we’ve been on the fringe of the drug epidemic in the state or in The County, but in the last couple of years we’ve noticed an increase in the types of drugs and an increase in the number of overdoses that have been reported and that we have responded to,” Pelletier said.
For more information about opioid addiction, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.