“With any kind of opioid overdose, time is generally of the essence. What Narcan gives us is time,” said Officer Justin Gramm.
Time to solve the problem before EMTs can get to the scene. IFPD is hoping that each patrol car will be equipped with the nasal spray. It can be that first step to prevent death.
“As long as we can restore breathing then that’s the first step to get them to survive that drug episode,” Bierma said.
The nation is dealing with an opioid epidemic. In our neck of the woods, the Idaho Falls Police Department just received a grant for its officers to carry what’s being called the “opioid antidote” named Narcan. It’s a nasal spray that can be used on people who overdose.
“In the last 90 days, for example, we’ve had over 57 drug-related arrests in the city,” said Capt. Royce Clements.
In some of these cases, lifesaving efforts must be done by our patrol officers. Which is why the drug Narcan could be a game changer.
“The drug itself is called Naloxone, we shorten it and call it Narcan. So whatever they’re using, whether that be heroine, fentanyl, opioid-based drugs that cause those common overdoses we’re seeing — it actually shuts off those pain receptors. So it allows us to not only get them breathing again, get their body functioning properly, but it actually gets us a chance to be more proactive on our level, too,” said Officer Mitchall Bierma.
The opioid epidemic spans nationwide, but is also no stranger to southeast Idaho. And as Idaho Falls booms, with all the good that will come from a growing city, can come some bad.
“And one of those bads is the availability of these drugs and the frequency of people using them,” Bierma said.
“I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think this is something that we’re ever going to arrest our way out of. Yeah, we do take people to jail, but I think much more importantly, we have avenues of rehabilitation and education,” Gramm said.
“This comes down to a physiological and a psychological addiction this person has. The best thing we can do for someone especially if they’re new to the game and actually want to get the help and it’s something they need — we can start that program,” Bierma said. “Get them into a rehab, get the community centers to start helping, the hospital has to be involved. The community has to help us out helping support these people recover.”
The officers have gone through formal training in how to administer the spray and how to store it. They have another training set for Tuesday.
The most helpful tips for drug investigations are reporting suspicious homes with a lot of people coming in and out at various times of the day or night, reports of stolen medications and reporting known drug dealers.
“The only way we can know where these people are and where they’re conducting business is with the assistance of the public. By far the majority of these cases are designed from, or start from, a tip that we either get a phone call on or a Crime Stoppers tip, or those types of things and we build from that information and develop these cases and are able to arrest these people,” Clements said.