Officers should carry Narcan
To the editor:
South Portland residents: 378 people died in Maine in 2017 due to opioid overdoses. That is more than one person per day. This is a serious problem for our state. Many people have debated the right way to respond.
Narcan is an antidote for an opioid overdose. If given quickly, most people will survive. Narcan will not worsen the situation, and it will likely save the person. Some towns in Maine, including Portland and Scarborough, have made it policy for police officers to carry Narcan on their person at all times. I spoke to emergency professionals in Portland and Scarborough about the use of Narcan. They explained how response time is critical. Because police are on the road all the time, they are likely to be first to arrive on the scene. If the police do not have Narcan, they can do little but wait with the person until the paramedics arrive. If the police have Narcan, they can administer it and probably save the person’s life. Through my conversations with them, I confirmed the great need. I was told Narcan is being administered in Portland several times a week, and often more than once per day.
Unfortunately some people see Narcan as a safety net. One officer reported a noticeable increased sense of recklessness amongst those who use opioids because they know Narcan is more readily available. The number of lives saved by Narcan is greater than this negative impact on some people.
Police having Narcan does not solve the problem of opioid overdoses. Efforts need to be made to address the larger issue, and Narcan should be readily available to save lives now. Please speak to our city council and ask that South Portland police officers carry Narcan for a quicker response.
Libby Verdelli South Portland