Opioid Overdose Antidote Now On-Hand at the Cook County Sheriff’s Department
This investment came in the form of a big donation for the Cook County Sheriff's Office
COOK COUNTY, Minn.- Keeping law enforcement protected from the deadly painkiller known as fentanyl is a serious concern across the country.
Fentanyl is often times mixed with heroin and can cause an officer to overdose just by being exposed to the particles in the air during searches, like a traffic stop. This has forced law enforcement agencies to invest in an opioid antidote called Narcan. This investment came in the form of a big donation for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Many first responders in counties across Minnesota carry the opioid antidote, called Narcan on–hand. Here in Cook County officers now feel up to speed to handle the growing opioid epidemic.
“It’s common enough where it’s definitely a problem,” Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliason said.
Fentanyl-related substances can be ingested orally, through the nose, and absorbed through the skin or eyes. Searching an area with fentanyl unknowingly can put officers in a dangerous position.
“It’s difficult because you don’t always know if you’re searching for drugs,” Eliason said. “You always want to make sure you have a mask on and gloves obviously but if you don’t know it’s pretty difficult.”
Even just a few granules of fentanyl can be lethal, officers say an amount equivalent to five grains of salt can lead to significant complications.
“It’s getting a lot worse the exposure now through the car–fentanyl the powder, the dust that people can be exposed to is a much greater risk than it was,” North Shore Health Ambulance Director Steve Duchein said.
The K–9 unit keeps the antidote on at all times.
“K–9’s are more prone to overdosing on opioids because they’re sniffing things and they’re sticking their nose everywhere,” Eliason said.
The opioid antidote has been available in Cook County for nearly two years, through the Northland EMS, but first responders tell us reviving someone after an overdose can sometimes be potentially dangerous.
“They can become very agitated and it’s not a safe scene for one person,” Duchein said.
In the past officers have had to restrain individuals after receiving Narcan.
“They’ve been out of it, they’re coming back into it and maybe they still want to be out of it so they’re not happy about coming back,” Eliason said.
The state of aggression can be potentially troublesome for EMS workers to handle.
“Law enforcement has the advantage they have handcuffs to restrain people or other methods that they could actually control the patient, in EMS we don’t have that,” Duchein said.
Officers have Narcan thanks to a donation from John and Rose Schloot owners of the Cross River Lodge.
John tells us every family has been affected to the opioid epidemic, one way or another we’ve had to learn some hard lessons about it.