On November 13th the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputies began carrying a dose of the drug Naloxone (also known as Narcan) in their patrol vehicles to assist in drug overdose prevention. The Sheriff’s Office recently applied for and received a community grant through Wal-Mart to start the program. This was then aided by Willamette Valley Medical Center who generously donated the doses of the drug to be carried in every deputy patrol car.

Naloxone is a medication used to counter the effects of an overdose from opioids. Opioids include illegal substances such as heroin as well as prescription pain medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone. Specifically, it is used to counteract life-threatening symptoms that depress the central nervous and respiratory systems.

With the increase of opioid addiction and overdoses in Yamhill County over the last few years, Sheriff Svenson felt it was a necessary step for the patrol and jail staff to become trained in the administration of Naloxone. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in Yamhill County have already been carrying and administering Naloxone for many years.

“In a life threatening situation where time is critical even a few minutes could mean the difference between life and death in an overdose,” said the Sheriff. “It is a distinct possibility that Sheriff’s Deputies could arrive at the scene of an overdose before medical personnel, especially in the more rural areas of the county. Having Naloxone available could save a person’s life and be a life changing event.”

Peter Hofstetter, CEO of Willamette Valley Medical Center said, “In the big picture of the fight on drugs, our donation was relatively minor but the lives it will inevitably save is beyond measurable. We are excited to participate and help law enforcement in their daily battle against drug overdose deaths. We applaud Sheriff Svenson and his deputies for launching this program and know our community is a better place because of it.”

The 2015 Nation Drug Threat Assessment recently released by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has the total number of drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2013 at over 46,000. Over half of those deaths were caused by prescription pain medications and heroin.

The Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the Yamhill County Health & Human Services and Provoking Hope, a non-profit organization seeking to help that struggle with addictions to transition onto the path of recovery. The overall goal is to create a county wide system that will help persons who suffer from addictions to gain access to services quickly.

Provoking Hope has agreed to have an on-call person, who is available to be contacted after an overdose has occurred and provide assistance with getting help with addiction and mentorship during recovery.