In response to the rash of recent opioid overdose cases in the Santa Clarita Valley, deputies across the county were given a new tool Thursday to help them save the lives of overdose victims and help stem the tide of a heroin/opioid epidemic.
At a press conference in Los Angeles Thursday morning, Los Angeles County Sheriff Department Sheriff Jim McDonnell singled out the SCV and its recent upsurge in overdose cases in explaining the need to equip deputies with Narcan, an anti-opioid nasal spray
McDonnell announced he would issue Narcan to patrol deputies in an effort to aid in opioid overdose emergencies.
Joining the sheriff at the podium were Commander Judy Gerhardt who spearheaded the program and Dr. John Connolly, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control Program.
“On a daily basis, law enforcement personnel are the first to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency,” LASD Deputy Lillian Peck said in a news release issued Thursday.
“Many of these patients are suspected of suffering an opioid emergency, and require immediate assistance,” she said. “Unfortunately, an average of 91 people per day nationwide become fatal statistics from opioid overdose.
“With a current wave of opioids casting a deadly shadow over Los Angeles County, residents will have increased chances of survival in such cases of suspected overdose emergencies,” Peck said.
By having a small, one-time-use spray readily available, deputies assigned to a field position are further empowered to aid in lifesaving efforts by deploying this product.
Under the sheriff’s plan, deputies will carry Narcan in their patrol cars. Narcan is the brand name for a device that delivers naloxone through a nasal spray.
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.
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.
The SCV was referenced in the press conference in light of 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.
The Sheriff’s Department said they would also be quipping sheriff’s stations in La Crescenta and East Los Angeles sheriffs.
A recent press conference held at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital April 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 attendees at the April 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.
“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.”
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt