By Dan Campana
A partnership between Loyola Medicine and Cook County will provide training to nearly 2,000 officers from 30 suburban police departments in the use of the opioid overdose-reversing drug Narcan.
The Law Enforcement Narcan Program is one of the first train-the-trainer initiatives to have direct medical oversight, according to Loyola Medicine’s Mark Cichon, chair of emergency medicine and director of emergency medical services.
“It is vitally important that our police officers know how to recognize someone suffering an opioid overdose and act quickly to safely administer the overdose reversal drug,” Cichon said. “This program will create a standard of care and a consistency from one police department to the next so we can all tackle this epidemic together.”
Cook County reported approximately 1,000 opioid deaths in 2017, with 5,000 opioid-related emergency department visits to county healthcare facilities in 2016, county officials said. Passed in September 2015, the state’s Heroin Crisis Act required all police officers to carry naloxone – the generic version of Narcan – and be trained how to use it. Cost and access to training have limited departments’ ability to comply with the law’s intention, officials explained.
The training teaches officers how to identify symptoms of an overdose and administer the nasal spray to a person in opioid-related distress. At the completion of training, officers will receive two naloxone doses to carry with them on duty. Three sessions had already been conducted as of early February.
Departments involved in the program include: Bellwood, Bensenville, Berkeley, Berwyn, Broadview, Brookfield, Cicero, Forest Park, Forest View, Franklin Park, Hillside, La Grange, La Grange Park, Lyons, Maywood, McCook, Melrose Park, North Riverside, Northlake, Oak Park, River Forest, River Grove, Riverside, Schiller Park, Stone Park, Westchester, Western Springs, Brookfield Zoo Police, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and the Cook County Forest Preserve Police.
The program is funded by $311,000 obtained through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which provides money to state and local police agencies.