WPD officers could soon be administering drug to fight overdose

© Narcan is a drug used to revive overdose victims.
© Narcan is a drug used to revive overdose victims.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Officers with the Wilmington Police Department could soon be armed with a drug to help fight overdose.

The department is currently pushing to acquire Narcan (Noxolone) for its officers to use.

According to Detective Jonathan Poplin with the Wilmington Police Department, the drug can already be used by 'laypeople' to aid an overdose victim in need; however, Poplin said the most recent law concerning the topic, doesn't discuss the legality of North Carolina police officers using the drug.  Poplin said the North Carolina Office of EMS must give approval before the department can consider using it.

The drug comes in the form of an IV or nasal spray.  He said it can mean the difference between life and death for an overdose victim.

The drug temporarily removes narcotic substances from an overdose victim's receptors. Poplin elaborated that first responders to overdose incidents could immediately provide help before paramedics even arrive on scene.

"There's no reason to wait that extra five or ten minutes when you've got law enforcement in their vehicles, patrolling the communities all the time," Poplin said.

Narcan is already used by law enforcement officers in 16 other states, and has proven effective.

"By what we see from other states, they're almost a complete success with this," Poplin explained.

He said Wilmington has a bad heroin problem.  The detective cited one weekend where the department had close to 15 overdose calls to respond to.

"This is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed," Poplin elaborated. "It's an answer to a problem that if not addressed could be fatal."

"If we have the training, the tools, and the ability to save somebody's life, why not do it?" he questioned.

Poplin said he does not know exactly when the drug will be approved for WPD officers to use.  If approved, the Wilmington Police Department would be the first department in North Carolina to let its officers carry the drug.

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