Barberton police officers are no longer just law enforcers. They’re lifesavers.
About once a week, an officer uses naloxone, a heroin antidote sometimes sold under the brand name Narcan, to revive an opioid user who has overdosed. Barberton officers have been carrying the drug since March 2015, making the department among the first local law enforcement agencies to arm officers with the antidote.
“How can we not do something to help save someone who is dying?” asked Chief Vincent Morber. “It’s easy. It’s cop work.”
Arming officers, in addition to paramedics, with naloxone is one of numerous steps taken so far in Summit County in response to the spike in opioid overdose deaths.
The Summit County Public Health Department trained Akron police supervisors last week in the use of the antidote, and they will share their knowledge with officers on their shift. Every cruiser is expected to be outfitted with naloxone by the end of the month.
In the past two years, the health department has provided this training to 14 other area law enforcement agencies.
Morber, whose 42 officers have administered naloxone about 95 times, said this is one obvious solution to a complex problem that needs addressed on many fronts.
“It takes everybody,” he said. “There’s no one silver bullet for this thing.”
Two other new efforts aimed at addressing the problem in Summit County will begin this week:
• Free Prescription Drug Disposal Bag Project: Summit County Community Partnership is launching a new program Wednesday to make it easier to dispose of unused medicines, particularly opioids.
Mallinckrodt, a United Kingdom-based global pharmaceutical company, donated 40,000 drug deactivation pouches to the county. When unwanted pills are deposited into the pouches with warm water, the drugs are deactivated and the pouch is safe to put in the trash. Acme will provide the bags to its pharmacy customers.
• Operation Second Chance: Community Health Center will have an on-call case manager available whenever officers respond to a drug-related incident in Stow and Munroe Falls.
The center, which has offered addiction treatment for 42 years, will meet with the surviving individuals and offer services, including transportation to the Akron center. The program begins Thursday and could expand to other areas. For more information, call Stow police at 330-689-5700, visit the Police Department’s Facebook page or call Community Health Center at 330-315-3715.
Other local efforts to solve the heroin epidemic include:
• Akron Municipal Court Drug Court: Allows drug abusers charged with less-serious offenses to have their charges dismissed after successfully completing a yearlong program that includes treatment, aftercare, sobriety and case management. For more information, call Probation Officer Jeff Sturmi at 330-375-2760 or visit https://courts.ci.akron.oh.us/programs/drug_court.htm.
• County of Summit Intercession for Dependency (CSID): Offers a spiritual and practical approach to the drug and alcohol problem. For more information: www.facebook.com/csidakron.
• Dispose of Unused Medications Properly or DUMP: Allows safe and proper disposal of unused prescription drugs. For more information, including a list of dump sites: www.scphoh.org/environmental/env-dump.html.
• Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone): Provides training on how to administer naloxone to drug users and their families and friends. Training is offered from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays at Summit County Public Health, 1867 W. Market St. in Akron, and 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays on the second floor of Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation Institute, 330 Broadway St. in Cuyahoga Falls. Free naloxone kits are provided. For more information: www.scphoh.org or 330-812-3983.
• Summit County Opiate Task Force: Consists of a group of individuals and organizations working to address the heroin problem. For more information: www.summitcountyopiatetaskforce.org/.
• Summit County Public Health’s needle exchange: Accepts used needles as long as they are securely and safely transported to Fairway Center Clinic in Building B at 1867 W. Market St. in Akron from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays. Participation is free and anonymous. Other items, such as sterile water and bleach for safe drug use and condoms for safe sex, also are provided. For more information: 330-923-4891.
• Turning Point Program (formerly Felony Drug Court): Yearlong program offered to offenders who struggle with alcohol or drug use who are charged with felonies. After successful program completion, the charge(s) are dismissed. For more information: 330-643-8281 or www.summitcpcourt.net/Programs/TurningPointProgram/Pages/TurningPoint1.aspx.?• Western Reserve Area of Narcotics Anonymous (serves Akron and surrounding cities in Summit, Portage and Wayne counties): Holds support meetings for those who have a problem with drugs. For more information, including a list of meetings: www.wrascna.org/ or call 1-888-438-4673 or 330-678-7564.
To read about other local efforts and available services, visit www.ohio.com/heroin.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.