Noting heroin overdoses are “tragically increasing” across the country and a concern even in Palos Park, Police Commissioner Dan Polk said all officers in the village are now equipped with a medication used to block the effects of opioids.
Polk told the council and a handful of residents Monday that Palos Park police officers recently completed training on how to administer Naloxone, a heroin overdose antidote that could save the life of a person who overdoses on heroin or other opioids. The class, which was held last month, was taught by Orland Fire Protection District Chief Michael Schofield.
“Unfortunately heroin overdoses are tragically increasing in frequency and Chief [Joe] Miller and I have talked about possible responses and one of the things we decided we would do is have an antidote for heroin in the officer’s squad,” Polk said. “If they are the first responders in what turns out to be a heroin overdose they can actually save a life. This is a momentous development in the battle against heroin addiction.”
Cook County Commissioner Sean M. Morrison (17th District) was instrumental in securing grant funding for the antidote, Polk said.
Emergency medical technicians are already carrying the antidote, but Polk said Palos Park is the first police department in the area to be equipped with Naloxone.
“There are some agencies that are in process [of carrying Naloxone] but like most good things we are first,” Polk said. “We’ve been talking about having the antidote for a while and it has been done in other parts of the country, but the issue has been always funding. Cook County Commissioner Morrison was able to secure funding through a variety of sources.”
The antidote, which contains the Intelliject Prompt System with visual and voice instructions, is administered to the patient’s outer thigh for five seconds.
“It’s the most user-friendly of all the heroin overdose antidotes,” Palos Park Police Chief Joe Miller said. “It’s a great tool to add to our arsenal and the bottom line is we are there to protect and serve the public, to preserve life and property.”
Palos Park police officers would administer the antidote only if they arrive first on the scene before emergency medical technicians, Polk said. There are no side effects to the antidote if it is given and the person was not actually suffering a heroin overdose, Miller said.
“There are times when we are called to a situation where we end up being there first,” Polk said. “This is one of those times when time is very important – if the person is unresponsive and not breathing we don’t want to wait for the guy with the syringe to show up. The more skilled hands we have out there the better we think it will be.”
Polk said heroin overdoses are becoming more common as dealers are selling more potent drugs to their customers.
“How do you get the best money for your heroin,” Polk asked rhetorically. “You make it as potent as you possibly can. So what people have been doing is mixing it with another drug called Fentaynl that is about 100 times more potent than morphine. Someone on the street has no clue.
“It’s the fact that people are mixing heroin with other drugs, mainly Fentaynl, that is causing so many overdoses.”
Miller said Palos Park police officers have responded to as few as one heroin overdose in a calendar year to as many as four.
“It’s very sporadic,” Miller said of the heroin overdoses.
In other news, Commissioner James Pavlatos reminded the council the third annual McCord Gallery & Cultural Center Fairway for the Arts golf outing will be held Sept. 12 at Crystal Tree Golf & Country Club in Orland Park.
For more information on the golf outing, contact the McCord Gallery at 671-0648.