Phoenix police equip first responders with opioid overdose-reversal drug

Narcan is  a brand of opioid overdose-reveral nasal spray called naloxone.

Phoenix Police Department officers in first responder positions are now equipped with opioid overdose antidote naloxone — something Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson deems important for their “tool box out on the street.”

After obtaining 1,800 units of the overdose-reversal drug through an Arizona Department of Health Services grant, the department launched a city-wide program in early July training officers on the identification of the signs and symptoms of opioid overdose and how to administer the naloxone nasal spray known as Narcan. All Phoenix PD officers in first responder assignments are expected to complete the training program through August.

A group of patrol officers received training at the Maryvale Estrella Mountain Precinct in Tolleson on July 11.

“Right now in our community, we know that we have a problem with opioid use and abuse. That’s why (naloxone) is an important tool for our officers,” Thompson said.

“If we find someone, through the training, who exhibits the signs and symptoms of that opioid or opiate overdose — if we’re there before the fire department — we want to be able to provide that dose and hopefully save their lives.”

Thompson, who said first responders are instructed to call the fire department before administering the first of two doses of the drug, said the process is “pretty simple.”

“We give them the first dosage, and after three to four minutes, if that’s not working and the fire department has not arrived, then we give them the second. As long as the steps of the algorithm have been achieved and followed, it’s not that difficult to administer,” Thompson said.

Police Sgt. David Jordan demonstrated the steps on a dummy. After assessing responsiveness and breathing, “slide it into the nostril…, push the applicator and put the drug into the system,” Jordan told the group.

Thompson said funding was a factor that got in the way of obtaining Narcan sooner.

“We’re talking 1,800 units. That’s a price tag, I’m told, of approximately $150,000. Because the Department of Health Services received that grant, they were able to provide that to law enforcement,” he said.

“And we are the largest law enforcement in the state, so we’re grateful for that grant.”