Wilton police use Narcan twice to save lives

The Wilton Police Department has used the lifesaving, anti-opioid drug Narcan two of four times in the field since all patrol vehicles were equipped with it earlier this year.

One of those four cases involved paramedics from Norwalk Hospital, in which Narcan was used and no lives were lost. Two involved officers alone and one involved a firefighter trained as a first responder, who also used the Narcan with good results. Chief John Lynch knew of all four cases and referred questions on the two involving the officers to Lt. Robert Kluk.

“We have only had two instances where our officers have used the Narcan on unresponsive patients,” said Kluk, spokesman for the department. “Both instances, the patients became responsive after the Narcan was administered.”

Narcan works by stimulating the respiratory drive, said Matt Soicher, EMS director at Norwalk Hospital. That is necessary because opiate overdoses tend to shut down a person’s breathing. The paramedics use injectable Narcan but the police carry a type that is administered nasally, he said.

Opioid abuse has been a scourge in Connecticut since medical doctors began prescribing highly potent OxyContin tablets in the past decade.

To that end, the state of Connecticut recently passed a law mandating that first responders in each town be equipped with and trained in the use of Narcan, an antidote to opioid overdoses. Opioids include both heroin and legal prescription medicines such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin. It was reported in 2010 that enough prescriptions were written that year to keep every adult in America medicated around the clock. Opioid overdoses have skyrocketed across the country and in Connecticut.

This mandate from the state was not handed down with any kind of funding, and had not been budgeted by the town. The Wilton Woman’s Club stepped up and donated $1,000 in January toward purchasing Narcan, also known as naloxone, for each of the department’s police cars.

The woman’s club, which made its donation on Jan. 10, is partnering with the Wilton Youth Council this year to fight substance abuse, including the abuse of opioids. The Wilton Youth Council has fought substance abuse for more than 30 years, and last year held a special panel to educate residents about the dangers of opioids and the importance of cleaning out medicine cabinets, discarding unused painkillers, following doctors’ directions about when to stop taking medicine, and preventing family members from using these drugs when not prescribed.

The police department already provides a secure box in its lobby for residents to dispose of prescription drugs.