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Hilltop Opioid Overdoses

At our February meeting, Columbus Division of Police Ofc Ed Chung spoke to us about his experiences with opioid overdoses in his patrol area of the Hilltop, where he has used Narcan 47 times to save the lives of overdose victims. Joining us, and offering comments from his own experiences, was 17 Precinct Community Liaison Officer Joe Townsend. We learned about when and how Narcan is deployed, the signs that someone who is overdosing can exhibit, and the laws that prevent officers from forcing overdose victims to obtain medical treatment.

We were also educated about the dangers first responders must be prepared for after Narcan is deployed. For example, if a overdose victim was using heroin and meth, he can become combative as soon as the opioid receptors are blocked by the Narcan, and officers need to be prepared for that.

Ofc Chung spoke at length about his work with the RREACT Team. This program follows up with overdose victims a few days after their incident and tries to persuade them to obtain treatment. He spoke of times when he and other officers actually drove the victim to treatment themselves.

When asked how he copes with the seeming futility of trying to help people who overdose again and again, he mentioned that his work with RREACT is helpful in that regard saying, "If they can't fight for themselves, you have to fight for them."

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