January 26, 2014 - Chief William G. Brooks III today announced that he has ordered the deployment of intranasal naloxone in all marked Norwood Police Department cruisers. Naloxone, commonly known by the brand-name Narcan®, is an opioid antagonist, which means that it displaces opioids from receptors in the brain and can therefore reverse an opiate overdose. Naloxone has been available as an injectable since the 1960’s and has been used in hospital emergency rooms for years. In fact, the injectable form is carried by Norwood Fire Department paramedics. Only recently was naloxone developed as a nasal spray. It was deployed in the cruisers of the Quincy Police Department two years ago under a pilot program by the Department of Public Health. Naloxone is a scheduled drug, but it has no euphoric properties and minimal side effects. If it is administered to a person who is not suffering an opiate overdose, it will do no harm.
On January 22 and 23, 2014 every sworn member of the Norwood Police Department received training by Dr. Michael Valkanas of Norwood Hospital. Officers were trained about the causes of opiate overdose, symptoms and signs of overdose, and the administration of naloxone using a nasal applicator. Dr. Valkanas has prescribed naloxone to the Department and we have obtained sufficient dosage units to deploy it in every cruiser. From this day forward, a Norwood police officer who is dispatched to assist a person in respiratory arrest due to opiate intoxication will have the ability to administer naloxone to reverse the overdose.
Today, opiate overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Massachusetts. Fatal and nonfatal overdose can result from the abuse of opiates such as morphine, heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone (as found in OxyContin®, Percocet® and Percodan®), and hydrocodone (as found in Vicodin®). The Norwood Police Department has not undertaken the deployment of naloxone due to a spike in overdoses in Norwood. While there were approximately 60 fatal opiate overdoses in Norfolk County in 2013, none occurred in Norwood. However, NPD officers responded to six non-fatal cases and there have been fatalities in past years. Now, especially in cases where the Fire Department’s ALS ambulance is unavailable, officers will have the training and equipment to immediately treat the overdose.
Chief Brooks thanks and recognizes the assistance provided by Dr. Valkanas. Sergeant Michael Benedetti managed the project for the Department and Officer Christopher Padden handled policy development. District Attorney Michael Morrissey has fully supported this initiative.
In 2014 the Norwood Police Department was the fourth law enforcement agency in Massachusetts, and one of only a handful in the United States, to equip its officers with the means and training to medically reverse opiate overdoses. Chief Brooks noted that the officers of the NPD have embraced this initiative, as they recognize it is in keeping with the Department’s core mission to protect human life.