LAKE COUNTY – Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim announced Tuesday that 32 police departments, including the Lake County Sheriff's Office, are taking part in a county-wide opioid initiative to reverse opioid overdose with special tools. The program allows law enforcement personnel to carry an antidote, Naloxone, in their squad cars to respond to overdose situations, according to a news release.
The Lake County Health Department has trained officers of all departments.
Naloxone is used to counter the effects of opioid respiratory suppression and overdose. There are three forms of Naloxone available to the departments. The intranasal form squirts a mist of Naloxone to nasal mucus membranes, while the auto-injector form is an FDA-approved self-contained version with a retractable needles that provides visible and audio instructions to the user, and the intramuscular version is injected with a needle and syringe, the release says.
"We want community members to know that their health and safety comes first," said Chelsea Laliberte, executive director of Live4All, which provides free community Naloxone and drug education.
"When it comes to an overdose, time is of the essence," Laliberte said.
Laliberte said it takes four minutes for the brain stem to die, making it critical for police arriving at an overdose scene to respond swiftly.
"This program has broken down a massive social barrier and allows users plagued by addiction with the chance to seek treatment," Laliberte added.
Nerheim said Lake County will be one of only a handful of counties in the country to equip police officers with the antidote.
"I am very proud of all the departments that are participating and taking the lead to help fight this epidemic," Nerheim said. "This is one part of our overall strategy, which includes aggressive prosecution of drug dealers coupled with an increased emphasis on treatment and education.
Medline Industries, of Mundelein, gave a donation of retractable syringes and Kaleo Pharma, of Richmond, Virg. donated $1.4 million of auto-injectable Naloxone.
Nerheim said these donations make this program low-cost to taxpayers.
Participating police departments include Antioch, Grayslake, Gurnee, Lake Villa, Mundelein, Libertyville, Round Lake, Waukegan and Zion.
About 80 officers have been trained on the use of Naloxone and they are training their peers, Lake County Health Department Executive Director Tony Beltran said.
Anyone suspecting an individual is suffering from an overdose is encouraged to call 911 immediately, the release says.
Visit www.opioidinitiative.org for more information and a full list of participating departments.