Norman Police are deploying life-saving medical kits to all officers next week. The opioid overdose-fighting Narcan is already in the hands of supervisors there, and it has already been put to use.
On Thursday, a Norman police lieutenant responded to a heroin overdose and used Narcan to revive the man, but the department originally got the kits to protect the officers themselves.
The idea arose earlier this summer, when Norman officers stumbled upon a manufacturing lab for fentanyl, the synthetic, more potent version of heroin that can potentially kill someone just by touching it.
Norman police administrators went to the state department of substance abuse services for a free batch of Narcan kits for those who were most likely to use them.
“We were going to give it to our narcotic officers, our K-9 narcotic officers, as well as our front-line supervisors,” said Lt. Lee McWhorter.
The narcotics team got their kits first, but McWhorter said the supervisors just got their kits on Wednesday.
Very quickly, one of them learned how critical the medicine is in saving lives. A man experiencing a heroin overdose on Thursday was suffering cardiac arrest, but one whiff of the Narcan reversed his symptoms almost instantaneously.
McWhorter said, “By the time that guy was on the ambulance in the back, he had started to arouse and was able to answer questions again.”
Now every officer in the department is getting a Narcan kit of their own. They start training Monday, learning about cities like Tulsa, where police frequently use the medicine in the field.
Norman police say opioid overdoses have not spiked dramatically here yet, but they want to be prepared when the time comes.
“We signed up to make a difference in our community,” said McWhorter, “so the worst thing for us as an officer is to get there and not be able to do anything to help.”
Narcan has no known side effects, so it is safe to use even if someone is not experiencing an actual overdose. Officers will also be trained to always call paramedics to the scene so that person can be professionally evaluated.