For Immediate ReleaseApril 24, 2017
3 Marin agencies to use naloxone, which reverses effects of opioids
San Rafael, CA – Police officers in three Marin County municipalities will begin carrying a medication that prevents opioid overdoses as part of an innovative partnership to address the county’s leading cause of accidental death.
Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS) launched an innovative partnership this week with law enforcement partners in San Rafael, Central Marin and Fairfax to help reverse a national epidemic of prescription drug misuse and abuse. Officers will carry naloxone, which almost instantly reverses the effect of opioid overdose. Previously, naloxone was only carried in the field by emergency medical personnel and administered by ambulance crews or emergency room doctors.
“Naloxone is a great tool for our officers in the field,” said Captain Dave Starnes of the San Rafael Police Department. “Police officers are often the first to arrive at the scene of an overdose and being equipped with naloxone could save a person’s life.”
In Marin, the leading cause of accidental death is drug overdose for the past five years. Most of those drug overdoses are linked to opioids, a class of drugs that includes prescription pain medications such as vicodin, codeine, and fentanyl, as well as heroin.
In light of the opioid epidemic, recent laws have expanded access to naloxone to non-medical personnel. These laws, along with the development of an easy-to-use naloxone nasal spray, have allowed local law enforcement agencies to take a greater role in preventing overdose deaths within their communities.
In 2016, Marin Emergency Medical Services (911) responders reversed 67 opioid overdoses with naloxone, up from 61 opioid overdoses reversed in 2015. However, there are many times when police officers are the first to arrive at the scene.
“It’s a great resource for us,” said Lt. Theo Mainaris from Central Marin Police Authority. “We hope we never have to use it, but if called upon, we’re trained and ready to go.”
Dr. Jeff DeVido, HHS’ Chief of Addiction Services, has conducted police officer trainings developed in conjunction with HHS Emergency Medical Services and provided naloxone nasal spray kits to trained police districts.
“We’re losing too many people, and we’re thrilled that our chiefs in San Rafael and Central Marin stepped forward to tackle this problem,” DeVido said. “Fairfax has now joined as well, and our focus is now turned to helping support the remaining Marin County law enforcement jurisdictions join in.”
Getting naloxone into the hands of people who might be the first to witness an overdose has been a priority for the RxSafe Marin community coalition. The coalition works with prescribers, pharmacists, schools and families of people at risk promote wider availability of naloxone.
“We see every overdose as preventable,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “Our goal is zero overdoses and this life saving antidote is an important step in reaching this goal.”
Members of the public who wish to obtain intranasal naloxone rescue kits and a brief training are encouraged to ask a local pharmacist. Intranasal naloxone can be purchased without a physician’s prescription, and most people can use insurance to purchase with no cost to them.
Dr. Matthew WillisPublic Health OfficerHealth and Human Services
3240 Kerner Blvd.San Rafael, CA 94901(415) 473-4163Email: Dr. Matthew WillisMarin HHS website