Over the past month, some Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputies and Wichita police patrol officers have been fitted with Narcan – a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.
Law enforcement officials have been outfitted with the potentially life-saving nasal spray over the past month due to an increase in overdose calls and deaths in the county that are widely attributed to fentanyl.
“It obviously becomes a big deal in this area,” Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said.
In 2021, the county recorded more than 200 overdose deaths compared to 162 in 2020, according to the Regional Forensic Science Center.
Departments said law enforcement is often the first on the scene before EMS can arrive with their own supply of Narcan – prompting officers to start using the drug in situations where every minute counts.
“This person very likely could have died had the officer not given him immediate attention, and so the sooner you can get help on the way, the better,” Capt. Travis Rakestraw said as he spoke. remembering a recent case where an officer used Narcan to help someone who was overdosing.
Both departments said Narcan has rarely been used because some of their employees are still being trained to use it by DCCCA, a community service organization.
“What’s most important is that we have it in the field where MPs who take these types of calls have it immediately available to them,” Easter said.
Narcan and training on the use of the spray has been made available free of charge by the DCCCA.
Local governments and community groups have also launched a campaign to educate young people and their guardians about drug use.
“We’ll never stop for drug use,” Easter said. “We’ve been trying to do this since the 80s and it obviously didn’t work.
“We need to do education outreach and then make sure there are enough treatments for people who want to go into treatment to avoid drug use.”