Frederick Ryan, Chief of Police
112 Mystic St.
Arlington, MA 02474
For Immediate Release
Monday, Jan. 25, 2016
Contact: Captain Richard Flynn, PIO
Contact: John Guilfoil
Arlington First Responders Save 29 Lives Using Narcan in 2015
Police Credit Improved Availability to Narcan Due to Partnership with P.A.A.R.I
Progress Seen With Arlington Outreach Initiative, Which Began in July
ARLINGTON — Police Chief Frederick Ryan reports that Arlington first responders used Nasal Naloxone 29 times to reverse potentially fatal heroin and opioid overdoses last year.
There were 40 reported overdoses in Arlington last year. Five people died; three during the first six months of the year, and two in September. Chief Ryan calls attention to the Town’s and Police Department’s plan of action to educate residents and those who run the risk of overdose. The Arlington Outreach Initiative, which began in the second half of last year, makes Narcan readily available to citizens together with the training on its proper use.
Narcan, or Nasal Naloxone, is an opioid antagonist that quickly reverses the effects of an overdose by displacing the drug from the receptors in the brain. It is not dangerous if administered to a person who is not overdosing, and it has no potential for abuse.
Arlington Police, Fire, and Armstrong Ambulance medics administered Narcan 29 times. The Police Department carries the life-saving drug in every police cruiser. In addition, Narcan was administered by friends or family members on six instances that were reported to authorities, thanks largely to the Police Department’s efforts to distribute Narcan freely to the public, as part of the Arlington Outreach initiative. Arlington Police launched this program last July to combat overdoses in town, by teaming up with a Public Health Clinician to directly reach out to those suffering from addiction, previous overdose patients, and their families to offer recovery services.
“One overdose or death is one too many,” Chief Ryan said. “However, thanks to the aggressive deployment of Narcan and rapid police response, we have been able to make a difference, giving suffering people another opportunity to retake their lives. There is no recovery from death, but there is recovery from addiction. We are very proud of our progress, but we acknowledge that much work remains in combating this epidemic.”
Chief Ryan also wants to highlight the partnerships that exist among the Police and Fire Departments and Armstrong Ambulance, whose first responders often work hand-in-hand during overdoses to assist the patient.
By partnering with the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, Arlington was able to make Narcan more easily available and affordable to people suffering from addictions and their families/loved ones.
Opioid overdose is currently one of the leading causes of death in Massachusetts and no community is immune to the problem. Former Governor Deval Patrick declared it a public health crisis last year and Governor Charlie Baker has made addiction education and prevention a priority for his administration.