Jamestown Police Chief Scott Edinger said the Narcan made available to his officers through a federal grant administered by the Central Valley Health District has already saved a life in Jamestown.
Narcan, also known as naloxone, counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose and can prevent a death if administered promptly. A $117,000 State Targeted Response Grant from the federal government has furnished special pouches that attach to the officer's ballistic vests along with Narcan for each officer carry.
"It (the pouch) helps maintain the viability of the Narcan," Edinger said. "... We've used it (Narcan) one time to save a person in the past weeks."
Opioid overdose deaths amounted to 68 percent of the overdose deaths in the United States and caused 68 deaths in North Dakota in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Edinger declined to give any details of the incident involving the drug overdose. Narcan has been carried by ambulance crews in the past. This is the first time Jamestown Police Department officers are carrying the drug, he said.
Edinger said one of the challenges of using Narcan is the drug's sensitivity to extreme temperatures. A sensor is kept in the pouch with the Narcan that indicates if the drug may have been damaged by being too cold or too hot.
Robin Iszler, administrator of Central Valley Health District, said the grant will be used within the health district's territory of Stutsman and Logan counties.
Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff, said the grant is being used to replace some nearly expired doses of Narcan his office had as well as furnishing the Stutsman County Correctional Center with the drug.
"Our goal is to increase Narcan training in community police forces," Iszler said, "and to create more awareness about the prescription drug Take Back program."
Increasing awareness of the Take Back program involves making the program easier to use.
Edinger said there has been a receptacle for the Take Back program downstairs in the Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center for several years. A newly installed receptacle in the lobby of the main floor of the LEC is larger and can accommodate liquids such as cough syrups.
"It is bright orange and just inside the door," Iszler said. "It will be a quick place to drop off old drugs."
Edinger said the equivalent of a 30-gallon garbage bag of prescriptions was collected at the old receptacle every month or two. Local pharmacies also accept old prescription drugs for disposal.
"It is hard to gauge how much (opioid drugs) it keeps out of the community," he said, referring to the Take Back program. "The amount collected here is more than you'd think."
The Take Back program encourages people to keep their opioid prescriptions in a secure locked location that is out of sight of visitors while they take the drugs, monitor the amount of drugs they have, take only as directed and dispose of the drugs properly through the Take Back program when they are not needed, Iszler said.
"We don't want people flushing them down the toilet," she said, referring to potential hazards of the drugs entering the environment.