By Bob Uphues
A Riverside couple has anonymously donated $1,000 to the Riverside Police Department to support the department's use of the opioid antidote Naloxone – often referred to by its brand name, Narcan – to revive people who have overdosed on opioids.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel announced the donation last week, calling it "significant."
"I'm so thankful that we have generous and compassionate residents such as the husband and wife team that donated directly to the police department," Weitzel said in a press release.
The donation comes on the heels of additional training police officers completed under the guidance of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Riverside hosted the training in the old Youth Center building for its own officers and police from other suburban agencies on Dec. 20 and 21, 2017.
The county brought in staff from Loyola University Medical Center to teach officers how to administer the new Narcan nasal spray, which is easier to deploy.
"It's not only easier to use, but it's less expensive," Weitzel said of the new nasal spray.
Officers were also trained on what to look for in an apparent overdose situation and what to expect as a reaction from overdose victims who are revived. They are often combative, Weitzel said.
Trainers also emphasized that anyone revived by a dose of Narcan must have follow-up medical care.
If the department needs to replace Narcan doses as they are used, Weitzel said it will cost about $30 per dose.
The new 4-mg doses will replace the older version of the spray, which was donated to Riverside police in 2015 by the Riverside Junior Woman's Charity. When officers arrive for their shifts, they check out the Narcan kits which they place in their squad cars while they are on duty.
Officers can also carry the Narcan spray in a pouch on their belts. The donation may go toward the purchase of those pouches in addition to buying more doses of the spray itself, said Weitzel.
Riverside police officers have used Narcan to revive overdose victims on six occasions, according to Weitzel, since officers were outfitted with the antidote in June 2015.
Since police officers often are the first emergency personnel to arrive on the scene of an overdose, said Weitzel, "it is essential … that officers have these tools available."