Cottonwood Heights police first to use overdose-reversing drug, save a life

Cottonwood Heights police first to use overdose-reversing drug (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Less than a week after Cottonwood Heights Police Officers armed themselves with the overdose-reversing drug Narcan, officers saved the life of a man who overdosed on heroin in the basement of his own house.

"It was very gratifying for them," said Police Chief Robbie Russo of the officers Casey Davies and Jeff Potter.

Potter and Davies arrived at the residence not knowing exactly what the problem was, but immediately recognized the man had overdosed and was not breathing. They gave the man two doses of the drug and after a few minutes, he came to. He eventually got up and walked to the ambulance gurney.

Russo said the drug, known generically as Naloxone, is kind of a miracle drug.

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"They call it the Lazarus drug and if you've ever seen it work, it's like watching someone rise from the dead," he said.

Dr. Jennifer Plumb, an emergency room doctor at Primary Children's Hospital, is the one who trained Cottonwood Heights officers to use Naloxone.

Plumb, through the project called Utah Naloxone, has already given 1700 free Naloxone rescue kits to anyone (family members, friends, spouses) who could save an addict from an overdose of opioids . This includes heroin and prescription pain pills which in 2014, killed more than 600 people in Utah. The deaths aren't slowing down.

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Since she began handing out free kits in July of 2015, she knows of 50 lives that have been saved with the kits.

Naloxone is not addictive, not dangerous. It's only job is to reverse an opioid overdose. It's been used in hospital for decades.

Plumb says while paramedics carry the drug, officers should have it too because they are often first on scene of an overdose.

She is already in talks with four other police agencies in Utah who want to carry the drug too. Police departments must raise their own money and purchase their own Naloxone.

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Plumb hopes that by carrying Naloxone, officers will see an improved relationship with the communities they serve.

"You can't help but have a bond with someone whose life you just saved," she said.

Russo said his officers are excited to save more lives.

"We expect to be ordering a lot more," said Russo noting that overdoses of either pain pills or heroin are a problem in Cottonwood Heights.

The man who was rescued, ironically will be charged with possession of an illegal drug. Russo said his intent is not to put the man into jail, but help him get into drug court where he can get help and treatment.

Follow Cristina Flores on Twitter @Cristina2News for breaking news, updates and more.

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