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Cleveland Police Begin Carrying Overdose Antidote Narcan

Narcan kits [Annie Wu / ideastream]

As the opioid epidemic grows in Cuyahoga county, all Cleveland police cars are now equipped with medication needed to respond to an overdose call.  

The kit in every police zone car includes gloves and two doses of Narcan -- the brand name for naloxone.  The nasal spray can reverse a drug overdose.  Each dose contains 4 milligrams – twice as much as the dosage that the city’s emergency medical technicians carry.  Cleveland Assistant Director of Public Safety Edward Eckart says people are overdosing on much stronger drugs and the higher naloxone dosage means police won’t have to go through multiple kits.

"But what’s nice about Narcan is that there is no side effects so if it’s used and the person wasn’t overdosed on an opioid, no harm no foul," says Eckart. "But it certainly gives those extra life-saving minutes until we can reverse that opioid and get people to the hospital and get them taken care of."

Eckhart says police officers went through training to identify the signs and symptoms of an overdose as well as the proper way to administer the naloxone. Until recently, only Cleveland paramedics and fire fighters carried the drug.

Last year more than 550 people in Cuyahoga Country died from opioid overdoses. 

Eckhart adds that it can also be used on police dogs who accidentally overdose when sniffing out drugs.

Annie Wu is the deputy editor of digital content for Ideastream Public Media.