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New police tool in Snohomish County could save lives of heroin overdose victims

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EVERETT -- Heroin use is at epidemic levels in Snohomish County and law enforcement is getting a new tool that could help save lives.

"I’ve had quite a few friends who have died from overdosing," said Wes Templeman, a former heroin user, who claims the drug took eight years out of his life and left him homeless. The worst part was watching friends overdose and die.

"My best friend Aaron passed away four years ago, and I was there," said Templeman. "I tried to revive him."

Templeman says police arrived first, but they weren’t carrying Narcan, the antidote that could have saved him.

"He was still alive and I was just trying to revive him, using CPR," said Templeman. "But his lungs weren't accepting the air because he was overdosing."

Stories like that are one of the reasons every deputy in Snohomish County will soon be carrying a small pack containing a Narcan nasal spray.

"It is a minimally invasive system to counteract the effects of opiates," said Phil Thompson, with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Narcan reverses the effects of a heroin overdose, and can save the life of someone suffering from a potentially lethal overdose of heroin.

"It’s one more tool our deputies have to be able to help save a life in the community," said Shari Ireton, with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

It is a community that is seeing a rise in overdose deaths. According to the Snohomish County Health Department, between 2011 and 2013, one out of every five heroin overdoses in Washington occurred in the county.

The Narcan packs cost about $100 each and are being paid for through a grant. Police can also use them to treat accidental prescription drug ODs.

"They can also be a valuable tool for kids or people who accidentally get into some of the opiate prescription drugs," said Ireton. "This isn’t just for heroin, it’s for any opiate."

 

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