Police body cam footage shows power of ‘miracle drug’ for reversing opioid overdoses
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Every police department in Hawaii now has Narcan available for officers to help those suffering from a suspected opioid overdose.
Kauai and Maui police departments distributed the medicine to patrol first ― back in 2018 ― and have used it several times to save people. Police on the Big Island equipped their officers in February.
And the Honolulu Police Department is just starting to distribute it.
Narcan, also known as Naloxone, can reverse an opioid overdose almost instantly.
Body camera videos recently provided to Hawaii News Now by the Maui Police Department show just how effective it can be. The videos were from an actual overdose call in Wailuku.
In a video, a teenager can be seen unconscious on her bedroom floor.
An officer then runs to get a nasal spray pack of Narcan from a patrol car and hands it to another officer, who runs up the driveway and into the back bedroom of the home.
Their sergeant is there with the unconscious teenager.
He gives a dose of Narcan and within seconds, she begins to wake up.
“C’mon, there you go, there you go,” the sergeant can be heard saying. “How you doing?”
The girl starts to cry and asks, “What happened?”
The sergeant asks what she took and she replies, “I don’t remember.”
The sergeant is clearly amazed at how quickly the Narcan worked and reminds his officers to keep some with them on patrol.
Naloxone is becoming easier to get, as opioid use and abuse grows.
It still requires a prescription from a doctor or pharmacist. And it is covered by most insurance. People can also get Naloxone through the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center. The FDA is even considering making it an over-the-counter medicine, too.
Naloxone comes in two forms, a nasal spray and a liquid that needs to be injected into a muscle.
That version takes a little longer to prepare and can be difficult if the person distributing it is panicking.
The spray is much easier, one pump in a nostril is one dose. That’s what the MPD sergeant used to wake the unconscious teen.
Both forms of Naloxone are handed out at Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center’s needle exchange van in Chinatown.
Paij Nakamura works the van and provides the Naloxone.
“Anybody who is taking an opioid medication for any reason is at risk for overdose, especially the medically frail or elderly,” Nakamura said, adding there have been cases of elderly people who accidentally overdosed because they forgot they had already taken their pain pills.
That’s why Nakamura wants everyone prescribed opioids to have Naloxone in their home.
Other first responders like paramedics, EMTs and firefighters have had Naloxone for years. HHHRC said it’s relieved to know most Hawaii police departments have also armed their patrol officers.
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