Governor Cuomo Announces Heroin Overdose Medication Training for Nearly 600 Police Officers
New York State provides officers with free supplies of medicine to combat overdoses from heroin and other opioids, including prescription drugs
Albany, NY (June 16, 2014)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that by the end of this week, New York State will have trained approximately 600 police officers and sheriffs’ deputies in the use of naloxone, a medication that can save lives by reversing the effect of heroin or other opioid overdoses, which include prescription drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. The state also is providing agencies that send their officers to the trainings with supplies of naloxone at no cost.
"New York State is continuing to take the reins in the fight against heroin and opioid abuse," Governor Cuomo said. "Providing first responders with free supplies of naloxone will save lives and help prevent tragedy, and I encourage law enforcement agencies across the state to take advantage of this important training."
This law enforcement training is part of the Governor’s comprehensive, statewide initiative to combat the rise of heroin use. Announced last week, the multi-faceted approach includes adding 100 experienced investigators to the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) to combat heroin trafficking, expanding training to reach firefighters and emergency services personnel so that naloxone can be available to all first responders in the state, and unveiling an awareness campaign targeting public colleges and universities.
In order to develop the training and provide supplies of naloxone to officers free, three state agencies – the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) – collaborated with Albany Medical Center, the national Harm Reduction Coalition, and other partners.
The state provides two types of trainings for law enforcement officers: hour-long classes that teach officers how to use naloxone and two-hour “train-the-trainer” classes that teach training officers, who then have the curriculum to train officers within their agencies. The state also helps those agencies obtain naloxone at no cost once officers are trained.
Tomorrow, June 17, the Kingston-based Ulster County Law Enforcement Training Group is hosting a train-the-trainer session as well as two classes for officers. Members of the media are invited to attend the training from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. At the conclusion of the three trainings, New York State will have trained 585 law enforcement officers from 97 agencies – including the New York State Police – in 25 counties and New York City since late April.
The state also has scheduled nine additional train-the-trainer classes and 16 classes for law enforcement officers through the end of July to provide the training and medication, known commercially as Narcan, to as many agencies and officers as possible. Those upcoming trainings will be held in Orange, Clinton, Dutchess, Onondaga, Steuben and Monroe counties.
In addition to teaching officers how to use naloxone, the police training provides an overview of the state’s Good Samaritan Law, which is intended to encourage individuals to seek medical attention for someone who is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life-threatening injury, who otherwise may have refused to do so for fear of criminal prosecution. It also details signs and symptoms of opioid overdose, provides officers with sample policies for their agencies dealing with the use and storage of naloxone, and features interviews with officers who have used naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose.
Naloxone works by temporarily reversing the effects of the opioid, whether illicit or prescription, allowing the individual to regain consciousness and resume normal breathing. When administered to a person suffering an opioid overdose, naloxone can reverse the overdose in a matter of minutes in a vast majority of cases saving the lives of those involved. It poses no danger to persons who otherwise might come into contact with it and it is not the kind of medication that can be abused.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose, and nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. When prescription medication is no longer available, individuals often turn to illicit drugs, such as heroin.
DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, “As a former District Attorney, I have seen first-hand the devastating and far-reaching effects of opioid abuse. Key to DCJS’ mission is providing training and support to local law enforcement. This training will help local law enforcement agencies deal with this public health and public safety crisis in a smart and effective way.”
Acting State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D., said, “Fatal and non-fatal overdoses from opioids play an increasing role in the mortality and morbidity of New Yorkers, and I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership to ensure local law enforcement receives the necessary training to administer intranasal naloxone. The Governor’s efforts expand on the department’s Opioid Overdose Program and EMS Naloxone Program, which combined have resulted in more than 1,000 successful overdose reversals.”
OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “Opioid related overdoses are a serious public health concern and training police officers to administer Narcan will help save lives. The Narcan Overdose Prevention Initiative is one of the most successful programs OASAS has administered along with DOH, the Harm Reduction Coalition and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In support of this important initiative, the 12 OASAS operated Addiction Treatment Centers have become training sites and we have trained over 2,500 patients, staff, family and community members. Saving a person from an opiate overdose gives OASAS and our providers the opportunity to address their addiction or misuse and put them on a path of recovery.”
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico, “The State Police continually train and equip our members to stay on top of dangerous trends or threats that may affect New Yorkers. Our Troopers see first-hand the devastating effects of heroin and other opiates on individuals, families and communities. I thank DCJS, DOH and OASAS for partnering to offer this training that will save lives.”
Medical Director for the Harm Reduction Coalition Sharon Stancliff, M.D., said, “The Harm Reduction Coalition strongly supports Governor Cuomo's actions to give law enforcement officers the trainings and tools to prevent overdose deaths, in line with calls from the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Attorney General to expand naloxone training. Our work with community-based programs, drug treatment providers and law enforcement has shown the power of naloxone in reversing New York's opioid overdose epidemic, and we are eager to share our knowledge and experience with police officers through this partnership.”
Director of Pre-Hospital Care at Albany Medical Center Michael Dailey, M.D. said, “We have already seen hundreds of lives impacted by expanding the use of naloxone to basic life support EMS providers in New York State. This partnership between DOH and DCJS, under the leadership of the Governor’s Office, is key to treating these acute overdoses and giving patients another chance to recover their lives.”