SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT | As overdoses skyrocket, Louisville police arm themselves with antidote
When you're on the verge of taking your last breath, every second counts. People found in motel rooms, homes and even on the streets are being given a heroin antidote to stay alive.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When you're on the verge of taking your last breath, every second counts.
People found in motel rooms, homes and even on the streets are being given a heroin antidote to stay alive.
As the number of overdoses in Louisville skyrockets, LMPD officers across the metro are now carrying Naloxone while on patrol. The program started about six months ago.
"There just was nothing that could prepare us for how many overdose runs we were making," said Erik Velten, an LMPD Health and Safety officer.
Police are often the first to a scene, and that's why the department launched the program. But paramedics have been carrying the drug for years, and the increased manpower could not have come at a better time.
EMS Director Diane Vogel says she's never seen a time with more opiate overdoses.
"It's all across the community," she said.
Officer Velten,a former Metro EMS paramedic, trains police officers on how to use the overdose reversal drug.
"The officers are very open and welcoming to the fact that they're actually making a difference and saving someone's life," he said.
They're making a difference over and over again, and sometimes it's for the same addict.
Donna Tucker, a Cincinnati native, overdosed on heroin three times in the course of just one month.
WDRB: "Did you realize you had almost died?"
Tucker: "Maybe for a split second, but that didn't matter."
Tucker is now in recovery, but it wasn't the overdoses that led her to getting help.
"I was just in the grips so bad that no matter what happened, I would go right back out," she said. "I would leave the hospital immediately and go get the same stuff."
A judge ordered her to come to the Healing Place in Louisville after an arrest, an opportunity only made possible because of the first responders and the Narcan that saved her life.
"No one thinks that Narcan is a solution," said Pat Fogarty, an alcohol and drug counselor at the Healing Place. "It's just a way of saving a life so somebody has an opportunity to get treatment. We certainly see hundreds a year that do."
That's the hope for these first responders, as well.
"We have kept a pretty good supply, just so we don't run out," Officer Velton said.
But Naloxone is expensive.
Velten says LMPD's first year for the program will cost nearly $100,000.
"We can also look and say, 'This is how much we've spent, this is how many lives we've affected and saved,'" he said. "You can't put a price on that."
Every second counts when you're trying to keep someone from dying.
These people, and this drug, are working to give people a second chance before it's too late.
"I pray that everybody out there can see what I see and live what I live today," Tucker said.
Police say the heroin bill passed by state lawmakers last year allowed them to administer Narcan. All new officers who join the department are being trained on how to use it.
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