The Nicholasville Police Department is adding medication to its list of equipment to combat an epidemic.
Last week, Jessamine County officials responded to 10 overdoses in a 36 hours: eight in Nicholasville and two in Jessamine County.
“We are pretty sure that the heroin causing the overdoses was laced with something,” Nicholasville police officer Kevin Grimes said. “It wasn’t just standard heroin; possibly fentanyl-based.”
Nicholasville police are expected to soon carry Narcan (naloxone) — a medicine used to treat narcotic overdose in an emergency situation — in the next 60 days. The officers have never carried Narcan on duty, Grimes said.
The change was made for several reasons, including the safety of responding officers.
“Fentanyl is absorbed through the skin,” Grimes said. “And if we were to touch something that actually contains fentanyl, it could cause the same effects to us as it would the individual who may be overdosing.”
The police department also wants to protect police canines who conduct drug searches and might come into contact with fentanyl.
“We are also going to carry the Narcan for the individual who might be overdosing,” Grimes said. “When we arrive on scene it sometimes takes EMS five to 10 minutes to arrive. With us carrying Narcan, it would give us the potential to save lives.”
The Jessamine County coroner’s office is waiting on the toxicology report from some of the recent overdoses. Coroner Michael Hughes said it’s too early to tell, but there is a probability that of the 10 overdoses, there was one fatality.
Hughes said he has seen firsthand how Narcan can save lives.
“There is a high probability that if the first responders didn’t administer Narcan, every one of these overdoses would have been a death,” he said of last weeks’ 10 overdoses.
The medicine is valued at $50 to $80 a dose, and it hasn’t been determined how much of it officers will be carrying.
There are cases when an overdose victim requires more than one dose of Narcan.
“Each case is different,” Grimes said.
Currently, the Jessamine County Emergency Medical Services administers and carries pre-filled syringes, chief Aaron Stamper said.
“Law enforcement will most likely carry a nasal spray of Narcan,” Stamper said.
Nicholasville police and Jessamine County EMS aren’t the only local agencies encountering heroin overdoses.
The Jessamine County sheriff’s deputies aren’t carrying Narcan, but the recent spike in heroin overdoses has caused officials to look into it, chief deputy Allen Peel said.
Peel said the sheriff’s office goes to all overdoses in its jurisdiction with the Jessamine County EMS crews, who provide support and carry Narcan.
“Heroin has become an epidemic in this country, not just in this state,” Peel said.
First-responders are preparing for ways to battle the heroin problem. The investigation of the suspected heroin dealer in connection to the 10 heroin overdoses last week continues.
Anyone with information on any of the 10 overdoses is asked to contact Nicholasville police at 859-885-9468.