2018-05-14 / Front Page

Lisbon officer saves a life

Opioid overdose death prevented by giving naloxone
BY CHRIS QUATTRUCCI
Times Record Staff

LISBON

Just six weeks after Lisbon police officers were given naloxone, officers used the medication to prevent an opioid overdose death.

Last week, Sgt. Ryan Mc- Gee responded to a suspected overdose, finding a 32-year-old male unresponsive. After performing CPR, he administered naloxone. The drug counteracts the effects of an overdose.

“Tuesday night was our first opportunity to use it,” said Police Chief Marc Hagan. “Sgt. McGee saved someone, it doesn’t get much higher than that.”

Naloxone, also know by the brand name Narcan, is a Federal Drug Administration approved nasal spray for emergency use to block or reverse the effects of opioids and prevent a death by overdose. Lisbon police received the drug through a Maine Attorney General’s Office program that provides the drug for free to law enforcement agencies.

The use of naloxone, however, and whether it enables more overdoses has been the subject of some debate.

According to an Associated Press report, current Maine law doesn’t have an age limit for such access. But the state Board of Pharmacy proposed setting an age limit of 18 and has since pushed to limit access to adults age 21 and older at the urging of Gov. Paul LePage.

When the state Legislature approved a bill to allow access to all Mainers, regardless of age, LePage vetoed the bill and called it an effort to undermine the Board of Pharmacy’s “reasonable rules.”

“No health policy rationale supports the extreme position espoused by the Legislature that every resident of Maine, including children, must have access to naloxone,” LePage said.

But the Legislature felt differently, overriding that veto on May 2 and making it accessible to Mainers of all ages.

A record of 418 people died of drug overdoses in the state last year. Opioids were the cause of 354 of those deaths.

After Lisbon had two drug overdose deaths in January, Hagan reached out to the state Attorney General’s office about getting the drug in February.

“Politics aren’t really our concern,” said Hagan. “At the end of the day, protecting and saving a life is our primary goal.”

Lisbon police officers underwent training in February to learn how to administer the drug, and have been able to use naloxone since March. Tuesday’s response by McGee marks the first time an officer has put the training into action — only six weeks in.

“Some people would probably say that’s sad,” said Hagan, “but the good part is we were able to save a life.”

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