Southwick police save life with Narcan

SOUTHWICK – Just three days after Southwick Police equipped cruisers with Naloxone, a life was saved using the opiod overdose drug.
Naloxone, widely known as Narcan, was administered to an unresponsive woman Monday morning.
“Today, we saw proof that our proactive decision to carry Naloxone was a step in the right direction as a resident of our community was saved due to this opiod antagonist being administered,” said Police Chief David Ricardi.
On Feb. 1, Southwick Police officers, along with the Southwick Fire Department ambulance, responded to a residence in town at 8:40 a.m. for the report of a “unresponsive female that is turning blue.” While en route to that location, officers were also advised it may be a possible drug overdose.
Upon arrival, Officer Michael A. Taggart quickly evaluated the woman and recognized the symptoms were that of an opiate overdose. Taggart quickly administered a dose of the Narcan
Taggart reported that within three minutes of administering the Narcan, the victim started to become responsive as her color returned to normal and vital signs stabilized. This subject was transported to the hospital by Southwick Fire Department ambulance for further evaluation and treatment.
Ricardi began the process of equipping all police vehicles with Narcan last year.
“We went to Town Meeting for an appropriation for Narcan and Narcan training,” said Ricardi.
Ricardi recognized the growing need for Narcan.
“All the meetings I go to and organizations I’m involved with, we talk about the opiate crisis,” he said. “If you’re a good manager, you have to cover your bases.”
A Narcan kit costs just under $60 and additional vials are less than $40. Ricardi said schools are being offered the possible life-saving drug for free and Gov. Charlie Baker is working toward programs to equip first responders with Narcan free or for less money. Ricardi said whatever the price, it’s worth paying.
“What cost do you put on a life?” he said.
Without Narcan, police had to wait for an ambulance to administer the drug. Ricardi said having it available in cruisers can mean it is administered sooner.
“We are typically on scene a few minutes before an ambulance, and that few minutes can save a life,” he said.
Narcan is also available to the public and Ricardi encouraged people who know their loved one has an opiod addiction to get a Narcan kit.
“They’re available at pharmacies, sometimes for free,” he said. “People should get a kit and train themselves how to use it.”
Ricardi said people are often in denial that someone they love has a problem. They are also hesitant to call police for fear of their loved one being arrested for using drugs. He said that is not the case.
“In that situation, our priority is saving a life,” he said. “An arrest is not always best.”
Ricardi said he was glad police were able to save a resident.
“We knew the day would come when we would save someone’s life, but we didn’t anticipated it would occur so quickly,” he said. “It just proves that no community is exempt from these type of incidents. I and the entire department are thankful that we were equipped to make a difference between life and death.”

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