Dosage By Deputies

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South Dakota law enforcement has a new weapon in the fight against drugs in the state.  The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department is equipping deputies with a spray to give to people who overdose on heroin and prescription meds.

A small box could become a big lifesaver in Minnehaha County.

“Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it.  That would be my hope,” Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department Patrol Division Commander Capt. Mike Walsh said.

Yet the sad reality is these boxes containing the drug Narcan will likely have to be unsealed and applied to someone going through an overdose.

“We’re seeing more heroin, but on top of that, we’re seeing more prescription drug abuse and this is just another tool that we can use in the event that we have someone overdosing on one of those types of drugs,” Walsh said.

The Narcan is sprayed into the victim’s nose as a way to revive someone who’s overdosing on opiates such as heroin or pain killers, and may just be minutes away from death.

“That’s the problem with opiates is it depresses the cardiovascular system where you simply stop breathing,” Walsh said.

Narcan is fast-acting.  The patient can start feeling withdrawal symptoms within a matter of minutes.

“They may become agitated because you just took away their high, their euphoria, but they don’t understand what we actually did is save their life because their respiratory system became so depressed that they were going to stop breathing,” Sgt. Joe Bosman of the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Dept. said.

Sheriff’s deputies are being equipped with Narcan because they’re often first on the scene of medical emergencies throughout the county.  The deputies have been trained to recognize the signs of an overdose.

“If somebody’s unresponsive, it’s going to be the scene surroundings whether we see pill bottles or needles laying around to point us in the right direction.  Is this a medical-type emergency or is this an overdose type of situation,” Bosman said.

Narcan also comes in a shot form.  But the sheriff’s department will use the spray instead because it’s not only less expensive, it’s also less invasive and much easier to use.

“This is, for lack of a better term, press and play.  Get in there, use it on the victim and be done with it,” Walsh said.

Narcan also allows deputies some margin of error when they apply the spray.

“If you use it on somebody that you think was an opioid overdose but maybe it turned out to be methamphetamine or maybe just so intoxicated on alcohol, the Narcan will have no negative effects on that person,” Bosman said. 

Many of the sheriff’s deputies are already trained EMTs so administering the Narcan doesn’t come with a steep learning curve.  A simple spray that can reverse the effects of heroin, right from under the patient’s nose.

“With us arriving on-scene before medical personnel, this will just better enable us to hopefully save a life or two,” Walsh said.

Each box contains two doses of Narcan.  One box costs $70.

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