Is it time to ask PD to give the Narcan back?

Blogfather Kelly Grayson mentioned a story on the book of faces that got quite a few comments, so I'm expanding my thoughts here in the ol' blogosphere.

What's the old saying?  "When you're a hammer everything looks like a nail"?

A flurry of stories keeps hitting my feeds of Police Officers dosing themselves with Narcan for all the wrong reasons.  Whether it's because they saw some white powder in a car, heard the word fentanyl while serving a warrant or even having what was described, by the officer no less, as a panic attack.  Heck, they even Narcanned a K9 who had a seizure after licking methamphetamine. Officers everywhere seem to be touching powder with gloves and somehow get sick.

The hype around opiod exposure, and especially the fentanyl family, has sent law enforcement as a whole over the deep end.  It appears what little training they may have received on when to administer the medication never took hold.  All they heard was "Fentanyl is going to kill you, take Narcan" and away they went into the night, giving each other nasal atomized doses in the absence of symptoms.  That guy in Ohio had crystal meth touch his gear and gave himself Narcan.  Crystal meth...on his clothing...Narcan...just stop.

It started as a grand idea...

PD was beating EMS to the scene of some overdoses.  Chances are the closest ambulance was on a PD eval or transporting an intoxicated person PD didn't want to arrest and process, but I have no data to support that conclusion.

Just now, most Officers reading this had the reaction of "Why don't you just stage and let us handle it or else grow a pair and get in there?"  Let me address this crowd quickly, their attention span is short.

If you'll come down and train me in self defense, then change the laws around me assaulting patients, I'm all for it.  Until then do your fracking job and render the scene safe for me to provide medical care.  If I went into every scene just punching people, knocking them down, kicking them, then wondering what happened, that would be guys giving each other Narcan like candy.

Is PD to blame?  No.  Not really.

It's EMS's fault.  We don't staff enough resources to meet the increasing demand and had success with letting Fire handle some of the medicals, why wouldn't the same be true for PD?  We give you AEDs and teach you CPR, it works.  Why is this Narcan thing such a disaster?

We forgot to train you properly.  Had we trained you properly you wouldn't be giving anyone Narcan that was awake and breathing.  Ever.

When I got to my little hamlet I saw poor CPR from the officers so I took it upon myself to train them how, why and when to apply the treatment.  They are CPR rock stars now.

The simple fact that the "fentanyl exposure hospitalization" rate for law enforcement even exists worries me and should especially worry law enforcement.

In short, you're doing it wrong.

Will Narcan kill someone?  So far it isn't directly responsible for any deaths I'm aware of, but the application of this treatment without even a basic assessment leads the caregiver to believe they have treated the condition...and stop.  Giving Narcan to an asthma attack will not all.  In fact it could exacerbate the symptoms, leading to a more complicated patient for EMS to treat as soon as we can get to the address around all the abandoned police cars in the street.

Is it time to take away the Narcan until we can get better training for law enforcement?

It just may be.


Anonymous said…
I'm going to disagree with you. Your belief that LE officers are inadequate when it comes to basic first aid and treatment is false. I am a Medic and a LE officer. I also teach my peers how and when to administer Narcan based on signs and symptoms. I also tell my peers that the Narcan they carry is not to be used on the OD druggie. Our Narcan is to be used on their fellow Officers in the event of an exposure. So in short, your generalization that all Law Enforcement officers are inadequately and improperly trained is inaccurate. I also believe if you take Narcan away from officer it would be like taking away their tourniquets. Do I agree that maybe some departments dont adequately train officers on the use of Narcan? Absolutley! I'm just saying a majority of LE agencies are properly trained.
Anonymous said…
Actually, a majority of Le agencies are not trained at all. The big ones have poor to zero training besides the basics. Some of the smaller agencies do train their officers. Others even have EMT's on the department. I would like to see all the departments train their officers to the level that you and your department supports. I carry Narcan, it's for me and my brothers/sisters.
Anonymous said…
“When I got to my little hamlet I saw poor CPR from the officers so I took it upon myself to train them how, why and when to apply the treatment. They are CPR rock stars now.”

Now replace “CPR” with “narcan application”.

There’s your solution.
targus said…
This comment is addressed to the first comment on this page and the statement "I also tell my peers that the Narcan they carry is not to be used on the OD druggie. Our Narcan is to be used on their fellow Officers in the event of an exposure." Dude, wtf? That's the hysteria showing. The narcan should be to make the members of the public who are not breathing breath again. Remember the public? The ones we're supposed to be serving and protecting?
Anonymous said…
Totally agree with Targus concerning the first comment is pretty indicative of the police mentality towards the public. After watching what happened with that family in Alabama which ended with the entire department being suspended I think a reality check for cops on a national level is long overdue.