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Mt. Juliet Police Supplies Officers with Opioid Overdose Kits as Encounters Rise

The Mt. Juliet Police Department has equipped officers with opioid overdose kits to administer to the public or fellow officers as encounters with dangerous opiates increase in the city and Wilson County.

The department purchased 90 kits for individual officers, two kits for K-9 units and two wall-mount kits for just over $6,300, Lt. Tyler Chandler said.

"The kits have been on our radar for some time now," Chandler said. "However, with the recent spike in fentanyl and carfentanil cases, we chose to expedite the process. We were waiting on a grant process, but with any grant, it takes some time to receive the funding."

Fentanyl and fentanyl-related compounds such as carfentanil are synthetic opioids, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A small amount of fentanyl or its derivatives — which can be absorbed through the skin or by airborne powder inhaled accidentally — can result in severe adverse reactions, according to the DEA.

The Wilson County Emergency Management Agency already carries the nasal spray designed to reverse an opiate overdose on its medical units.

WEMA has responded to 63 overdose calls this year through June compared with 45 for the same time period in 2016, Director Joey Cooper said. WEMA personnel trained Mt. Juliet officers on proper administration of the overdose spray.

More street drugs like heroin being found mixed with synthetic opiates have prompted warnings from the DEA to law enforcement and first responders who become at risk in situations like traffic stops and drug investigations.

Several months ago a Mt. Juliet police officer encountered a case of carfentanil in heroin and didn't realize it. Since then, encounters with opiates have continued, Chandler said.

Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to DEA information. Carfentanil is considered approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, the DEA states.

“Our goal with the kits are to ensure officers are better prepared to respond to overdose incidents and have the tools they need to save another officer’s life if they become exposed to dangerous substances, like fentanyl,” Mt. Juliet Chief James Hambrick said.

Dr. David Edwards, Clinical Chief of Chronic Pain Service at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, weighs in on the opioid crisis, comparing it to the tobacco crisis and an overflowing tub. Karen Kraft, Anita Wadhwani / The Tennessean

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office announced in May it added opiate overdose kits with naloxone and provided training for deputies, Lt. Scott Moore said. The sheriff’s office is pursuing grants to add more kits, Moore said.

The Lebanon Police Department also has trained officers to deal with an opioid overdose and also has overdose spray available to officers, Sgt. PJ Hardy said.

“We have seen an increase in overdoses in this county, and what is more alarming is the number of individuals battling addiction is from the younger generation," Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said.

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