It may only be a matter of minutes for an overdose to turn deadly, a chance that Vermont State Police Col. Tom L'Esperance says he doesn't want to take.
"We patrol rural Vermont," L'Esperance said. "And there is a good chance that the trooper could arrive first."
Under a new initiative announced Thursday, Vermont's green and gold will train to use a drug that can prevent overdose deaths. Called Narcan or Naloxone, it works as an opioid antagonist, essentially reviving an unresponsive patient within seconds.
"So this is a medication that effectively blocks the negative side effects of drugs like heroin, morphine, oxycontin, vicodin, etc... It does this in a way that is very effective, very safe, has virtually no other side effects," said Michael Leyden, the deputy director of Vermont EMS.
Leyden says Narcan is sprayed out of a syringe into the patient's nostrils. Since December, the Vt. Department of Health has been running a pilot program that gets Narcan kits to opiate users and their family members to have on hand just in case. Leyden says one of those kits has already been used this month to save a life.
For the state police, L'Esperance says getting Narcan to all troopers will be a two-step process. First, is training them about Narcan by springtime.
"So the troopers across the state understand what Narcan is all about. The last thing I would want to happen is a trooper go into an apartment where an overdose is taking place, someone is trying to administer Narcan, and a trooper took action," L'Esperance said.
The second step is to supply each officer with Narcan to administer when responding to overdose situations. Some critics say this program can be seen as the state condoning illegal drug use, but L'Esperance says having the ability for troopers to administer Narcan will save lives.
"There will be critics out there, but all walks of life can be affected by this -- so we aren't taking any chances," L'Esperance said. "And if we get to the point where we can carry it-- the citizens of Vermont will all be better served. It's an easy decision."
State Police say there is not a set timeline yet for when troopers will be equipped with Narcan. L'Esperance says they have a team working on a logistics plan, like where troopers can carry and store the Narcan.
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:17 AM EST2014-03-08 13:17:30 GMT
We have some ideas for your Saturday. IRISH FESTIVAL The 19th annual Burlington Irish Heritage Festival kicks off today. There is a lecture about the role of Irish immigrants in the Civil War at theMore >>
Friday, March 7 2014 7:28 PM EST2014-03-08 00:28:44 GMT
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there. More >>
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there.More >>
Friday, March 7 2014 7:26 PM EST2014-03-08 00:26:37 GMT
A threat canceled all after-school activities in the Colchester School District Friday. The superintendent sent out an alert to parents saying even with enhanced security measures, the district considersMore >>
A threat canceled all after-school activities in the Colchester School District Friday.More >>
Friday, March 7 2014 10:42 AM EST2014-03-07 15:42:34 GMT
The state of Vermont released new evidence in hopes of keeping a Manchester woman behind bars. Fifty-year-old Patricia Kane was arrested on charges of interfering with the custody of a minor in January.More >>
The state of Vermont released new evidence in hopes of keeping a Manchester woman behind bars.More >>
Friday, March 7 2014 6:48 PM EST2014-03-07 23:48:25 GMT
Rutland police say they've caught a man who robbed a woman at knifepoint Friday morning. They say at about 8 a.m., the woman was walking on Grove Street when Robert Van Driel, 25, brandished a knife andMore >>
Rutland police say they've caught a man who robbed a woman at knifepoint Friday.More >>
Friday, March 7 2014 7:19 PM EST2014-03-08 00:19:47 GMT
A scare for a homeowner in Burlington Friday afternoon who walked in on a burglary. Police say the woman found a man inside her house on North Avenue. He ran off. He's described as a younger white man,More >>
A scare for a homeowner in Burlington Friday afternoon who walked in on a burglary.More >>