Local sheriff’s officials busy responding to the ill-effects of a heroin/opioid epidemic in the SCV are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a drug which can stop an opioid overdose.
The drug is called naloxone and, under a program soon to be unveiled, is expected to be handed out to deputies including those at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station.
News of the program was reported on public radio this week, quoting Commander Judy Gerhardt with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department saying she expects to hand out naloxone nasal spray kits to 600 deputies this week, with the hope of delivering more than 3,000 this year.
Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, who “re-tweeted” the naloxone story earlier said she expects news of the program to be formally announced any day.
“The LASD special enforcement branch – SEB – is going to hold a press conference about it,” she said.
Miller seized the opportunity to tell Santa Clarita Valley residents about the program by “re-tweeting” Gerhardt’s story on the station’s Twitter page.
Public radio reporter Frank Stoltze, reporting the story for KPCC, made special reference to the Santa Clarita Valley in his report.
Under the sheriff’s plan, deputies will carry Narcan in their patrol cars, Stoltze said, noting that Narcan is the brand name for a device that delivers naloxone through a nasal spray.
In his interview with Gerhardt, Stoltze reported that the first two-dose kits were expected to be put into the hands of deputies in places where drug overdoses are more likely to happen, specifically mentioning the Santa Clarita Valley.
Stoltze pointed out the SCV in referencing reports that a particularly potent batch of heroin in the SCV had killed one person and threatened the lives of seven others in a 24-hour period.
At a press conference held at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Apr. 25 it was revealed that Alexander Esquivel, 28, of Castaic, apparently succumbed to a drug overdose and that at least seven other people were treated for overdoses within 12 hours of his death.
“We’ve seen an upsurge in overdose cases in our emergency department in the last 24 hours,” hospital spokesman Patrick Moody told the conference.
The hospital’s emergency room physician, Dr. Bud Lawrence, who talked about the regular medical treatment of drug addicted patients, pointed to an alarming number of patients seen in a 24-hour period Monday night.
“From a public health standpoint, for the emergency department this is of concern to us,” Lawrence said. “That there may be something out there the public would be aware of.”
“Occasionally, we see little spikes where there may be a difference in the quality or content of the drugs being ingested,” Lawrence said.
Cary Quashen, Henry Mayo Executive Director of Behavioral Health and Director of Action Family Counseling, who also spoke at the press conference said: “We are in the midst of an epidemic.”
Naloxone works to keep an opioid overdose victim breathing but temporarily reversing the effects of the opioid.
In the event of an opioid overdose, a lack of oxygen could lead to brain damage within just four minutes.
Naloxone could provide valuable minutes before paramedics arrive with emergency medical equipment.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt