Oak Park Police better equipped to save drug overdose victims

Oak Park police officers assigned to field duty are now carrying automated external defibrillator (AED) cases in an effort to prevent drug overdoses. These cases are each equipped with doses of Naloxone, a fast-acting drug that can save the life of an overdose victim by blocking the effect of opioids in the brain, according to a news release from the Village.

The Oak Park Police Department underwent training during the week of Oct. 9-15 in order to ensure that all officers and commanding staff know how to administer Naloxone, which is designed to restore breathing in a victim suffering from an overdose caused by drugs such as heroin or painkillers.

“Reducing the time between the onset of an overdose and effective intervention can be a matter of life and death,” Oak Park Police Chief Anthony Ambrose said. “By having access to Naloxone, our officers on the street can act quickly if they encounter someone experiencing an overdose. This really is a commonsense measure that can help save lives.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that Illinois had an 8.3 percent increase in overdoses from 2013 to 2014, placing it as one of 14 states countrywide to report a significant rise in drug-related deaths.

Oak Park firefighters and paramedics reported 43 cases in which they had to administer Naloxone in 2015 compared to 46 instances in 2014. Village officials hope that more lives will be saved now that all lines of Emergency Service Technicians are licensed to carry the life-saving drug.

According to the news release, the Oak Park Police Department acquired the doses of Naloxone at no cost through a grant from the Cook County Overdose Prevention Program. All police departments within Cook County are eligible to receive a portion of the grant based on need.

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Pat is the Editor for Around Media Group. He holds a degree in journalism from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.

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