Chapin, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Chapin Police Department will take its last and final step toward its officers being equipped with a lifesaving drug soon. Once a DHEC employee sits in on a class that Chapin Captain Ray Craig teaches to other officers on January 26th, the state of SC will supply enough Narcan for each of the small department’s officers to carry in their cruisers. Narcan is a drug that immediately reverses the effects of an opiate overdose when administered quickly.
Most know that the overuse of opiates in SC and the USA has reached a crisis level. Opiates, drugs like the natural version derived from the poppy plant, include opium, morphine, codeine,or thebain. Their synthetic versions, drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, or methadone are just as dangerous if they’re misused. In the past few years, hundreds of thousands of Americans haven died from the overuse of these drugs. It’s become such a problem, President Trump and SC’s Governor Henry McMaster have declared the issues of their misuse a public health emergency.
Opiates are great when used as directed to control severe pain. When overused, they can suppress a victim’s respiratory system and their body literally stops breathing, causing them to suffocate. For people who’ve made this mistake, Narcan can be the difference between living and dying.
Chapin Police Chief Seth Ziegler said the use of the state provided drug is a no brainer when it’s needed. Officers are trained to recognize the signs of a patient who's overdosing, and then they simply spray a shot of the vaporized drug in their nostrils. It immediately reverses the deadly effects. Officers are often the first on the scene, and the speed at which the drug is administered is important. Since Chapin has no cost associated with the drug, it’s a win-win for the residents or visitors to the town who may be struggling with addiction.
Chapin’s program is called trainer-the-trainer. The department’s training officer attends a class put on by DHEC. During that course, that officer learns how to teach the material. Then, that trainer is watched as he teaches it to other officers. Again, once the DHEC employee is satisfied he or she has a handle on the material, the trainer is free to teach the course as often as needed.
Chief Zeigler said that he cautiously researched the drug, and found that it’s extremely safe. “Usually, when an officer arrives where someone is overdosing, others are there that have called 911 because the patient has become unresponsive. They will usually tell us that their friend or associate has used these drugs. Even if an officer makes a mistake and administers it to someone who’s not overdosing, it’s as harmless as a shot of water vapor. Using it far outweighs any risk associated with it,” Zeigler told the council at their work session Tuesday.