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Substance Abuse Team Donating Overdose Drug Kits to Blount Agencies

Several Blount County police, fire and school groups are receiving drug overdose kits thanks to a partnership with an area action team. The Blount County Substance Abuse Prevention Action Team (SAPAT) is donating 125 naloxone kits, which can reverse overdoses caused by heroin or other opiate drugs. SAPAT, part of the Blount County Community Health Initiative, is distributing the kits to the Alcoa and Maryville police and fire departments, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, and the Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems. While the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Alcoa Police Department and Maryville Fire Department have had supplies of naloxone before, this will be the first time the other organizations are receiving the potentially lifesaving medication.

Naloxone can either be injected into a muscle or sprayed into the nose of a person experiencing an overdose, and can save his or her life within minutes, according to a Blount Memorial Hospital (BMH) news release on the program. The intranasal doses, which are much cheaper than the injectable forms, were recently approved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration, SAPAT members said. Each agency or group receiving the kits will complete training courses detailing how to administer naloxone, and will receive certification through the Tennessee Department of Health, the release said. Many agencies also will be doing hands-on training with local experts and medical professionals. Maryville Police and Fire Chief Tony Crisp told The Daily Times his agencies received 26 kits on Monday, and his officers are just finalizing training and policies on the use of the drug. “We’re starting on the training of our people,” Crisp said. “We expect in the next seven to 14 days we’ll have them in the hands of our officers.”

He said Maryville firefighters have had injectable naloxone for a number of years, but this will be the first time Maryville officers will have the drug. The new intranasal kits will be dispersed among a number officers on each shift, he said.

Dr. Deaver Shattuck, BMH stroke medical director, said in the news release that the kits are an invaluable resource for saving lives. “Putting naloxone or Narcan out into our community will save lives in Blount County, no question about it,” Shattuck said in the release. “Our fantastic first responders and law enforcement folks will do a great job, and will be able to administer this drug quickly when it’s needed. We’ve had an explosion of narcotic overdose deaths in the last decade. These victims die because the overdose stops their breathing and damages their brains. Giving this drug early, even before patients arrive in the emergency department, will save brain cells and lives.”

Blount County had 21 overdose deaths in 2014, according to numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health. The numbers rose across the state by nearly 100 between 2013 and 2014, from 1,166 in 2013 to a record-setting 1,263 in 2014. That means more people died from drug overdoses in the state in 2014 than were killed in motor vehicle accidents, according to the department of health. SAPAT purchased the intranasal naloxone doses at a discounted price of $35 each through Blount Discount Pharmacy. SAPAT used funds from a federal Drug-Free Communities grant and other contributions to purchase the doses, along with medical bags, CPR masks, gloves and alcohol wipes to be included in each kit. SAPAT provided the following breakdown on kit dispersals in the area:

• Blount County Sheriff’s Office: 60

• Maryville police and fire departments: 26

• Alcoa Police Department: 5

• Alcoa Fire Department: 8

• Blount County Schools: 12

• Maryville City Schools: 6

• Alcoa City Schools: 6

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