LaGrange Police Dept. leads NARCAN training

Published 2:04 am Saturday, May 27, 2017

LaGrange Police Department Training Officer Wade Sheppard was on hand at the Troup County Sherriff’s Office on Thursday to provide an instructional overview on naloxone HCI, or NARCAN. NARCAN is used for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose, and has been available for use by the LaGrange Police Department for the last two years.

The number of opioid overdoses has been on the rise in Troup County recently, according to Sheppard, and the NARCAN training is the most effective way for law enforcement to combat this problem.

“This is getting to be bad around Troup County,” Sheppard said during the presentation. “There are at least 25 people per month that are getting dropped off at West Georgia Medical Center that law enforcement and EMS are not even seeing. When I mean ‘dropped off’ I mean taken there, dropped off, left. It is bad, we’re just not seeing it. This (NARCAN training) is getting us ahead of the game so that when we do start seeing it (overdoses) we can understand what we need to do and be prepared for it.”

NARCAN is only effective against opioid overdoses. It has no effect against drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, Xanax or valium, and also is not effective against alcohol.

Only with opioid-based products such as hydrocodone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, methadone, etc. will NARCAN be effective.

Opioids, as Sheppard described, enter the body and attach themselves to red blood cells in such a way to prevent oxygen from reaching those cells.

“At the same time, opioids tell the brain, ‘I’m a superhero, I don’t have to breathe in order to live,’” Sheppard said. “It represses the urge to breathe. Now the respiratory system is going down and there is no oxygen getting to the body.”

NARCAN, simply put, reverses that damage.

It enters the body, removes the opioid-based products from the red blood cells, attaches itself to those cells and creates a pathway for the oxygen to travel.

Simultaneously, it revives the urge to breathe in the brain, and reverses the effect of the drugs. 

During the presentation, Sheppard also spoke to the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law, and the implications the law has.

“This is something you in law enforcement need to be familiar with,” Sheppard said to those gathered.

The law, which was passed in 2014, says a person seeking medical assistance related to a drug overdose for themselves or another cannot be arrested, charged or prosecuted for possession of certain controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.

The Troup County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of training and implementing a plan to carry NARCAN as well.