DECATUR-Law enforcement officers and other first responders in Illinois will soon carry medication to help treat opioid and heroin overdoses.
A state law passed in September 2015 requires law enforcement agencies and fire departments to possess Naloxone, a medication known as an “opioid antagonist” that blocks opioid receptors in the brain. The state Department of Public Health is “currently drafting rules for all EMS personnel for the administration and use of opioid antagonists,” according to a department spokesperson.
Nevertheless, several Macon County law enforcement agencies have already been trained to give the treatment and carry Nalaxone kits, said Administrative Lieutenant Jonathan Butts of the Macon County Sheriff’s Department.
“We work very closely with the Tyler Yount Foundation here in Decatur, which is able through their fundraising to supply Naloxone to law enforcement agencies here in Macon County, to be given to the officers on the street to be used when needed” Butts said, adding that a member of the sheriff’s department has been trained to train others on the use of the medication.
Kathy Burkham, the foundations’ founder, said the foundation’s vice president Mike Burkham has trained more than 150 people on the medication’s use, and she said the foundation has worked with the Decatur and Mount Zion Police Departments, the Macon County Sheriff’s Department, Heritage Behavioral Health, other organizations and private individuals to provide training and access to Nalaxone.
St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur also has a Naloxone program. Alcohol and drug counselor Michael Reeves said the hospital often treats people who are using heroin.
“Almost daily … not overuse, but opiate use,” Reeves said. “There’ll probably be an ER/ED visit here sometime today. It’s very prevalent.”