All SUNY New Paltz campus police officers will soon carry and be certified in the use of the heroin antidote naloxone.
Backed by the office of the New York State Attorney General through the Community Overdose Prevention Program, New York State supplied funding to any police departments in the state that wished to have naloxone as a resource.
$27,000 in funding was given to SUNY New Paltz and 11 other SUNY campus police departments who chose to partake in program and is to be used for both the purchase of and the training in implementing naloxone.
A pharmaceutical drug that acts as an opioid antagonist, naloxone prohibits opiates from affecting the body by taking up space on the cell receptors that would normally be receiving the opiate when heroin use takes place. Naloxone can therefore be administered to an individual who is experiencing a heroin overdose in order to block and reverse the effects of heroin on the body’s respiratory and central nervous systems, SUNY New Paltz Police Chief David Dugatkin said.
Half of campus officers will be trained to administer the antidote on on Sept.11 and the other half on Sept. 18, allowing the entire department to be trained and have the kit with them on patrol by the end of the month, he said.
Dugatkin said training lasts one to two hours and includes the officers learning about the drug itself, its history and its use. The remaining time focuses on how to properly administer it using dummy simulators. Although there are various ways to execute the use of naloxone, police officers are being trained to administer the drug via a mucosal atomizer, i.e. a nasal spray bottle, through the nose.
The New Paltz Town Police issued a press release Aug. 21 stating that their entire department is equipped with naloxone, also through a grant that was given by the New York State Attorney General’s office.
New York state accounts for 20 percent of the total heroin seized nationally each year by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) each year — a 67 percent increase within the last five years — according to an April 2014 article from the Associated Press. Heroin’s growing grasp on New York can be seen in the more than 2,000 recorded deaths caused by heroin overdoses in 2011.
With heroin use in New York State on the rise, Dugatkin said the state’s concern lies within the production of the drug. By heroin becoming a cheaper drug to produce it is now a cheaper drug to buy, allowing it to grow in popularity and potentially spread from larger cities into smaller communities.
“No one here can remember any time that we’ve had a heroin incident on campus,” SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said. “But we want to take all steps that we can to prepare to protect students and other members of community if something like this happens.”
Dugatkin also believed this addition is not mandatory, but preparatory.
“There is no crisis, there is no epidemic, there is no major issue on the SUNY New Paltz campus. I really want to keep it that way,” Dugatkin said. “But this is an issue that you have to be proactive in and say that if there is such a drug out there, that can reverse it and literally bring somebody back from the brink of death, you have to participate in it.”