Springfield Police Department Surpasses 375 Life-Saving Uses of Narcan

Springfield, Mass. — August 31st is recognized as International Overdose Awareness Day.  The day serves as a way to raise awareness about fatal and non-fatal overdoses, educate the public, and encourage action and discussion around overdose prevention. It is also meant to recognize the grief felt by family and friends whose loved ones have been lost to addiction or have been permanently injured as a result of an overdose.

On this International Overdose Awareness Day, Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood is pleased to announce that the Springfield Police Department has surpassed a significant milestone in its ongoing Narcan program, with more than 375 lives saved in just over three years.  On Wednesday (8/31), Superintendent Clapprood also had an introductory meeting with representatives from Better Life Partners who provide care and counseling for opioid-use disorder across New England.

One of Superintendent Clapprood’s first initiatives was to outfit Springfield Police officers with nasal Naloxone (Narcan).  On March 19th, 2019 officer began carrying the opioid reversal drug and on August 30th, 2022 officers administered their 378th life-saving dose to an individual suffering from an overdose.

Narcan, an opioid antagonist, can quickly reverse the effects of a potentially fatal painkiller or heroin overdose by binding to opioid receptors and reversing or blocking the effects of other opioids, quickly restoring normal breathing. Narcan is not dangerous if administered to a person who is not overdosing and it has no potential for abuse.

“On Overdose Awareness Day it is important to remember the individuals who have lost their lives due to the opioid crisis and their families who continue to grieve.  It is also important to recognize our officers, firefighters and paramedics in this city who have saved hundreds of lives by administering Narcan in the crucial timeframe where someone is suffering from the effects of an opioid overdose.  Equipping officers with Narcan became a clear and urgent need and continues to be an important lifesaving tool,” Superintendent Clapprood said.  “Saving more than 375 lives using this medication is an outstanding achievement and I am proud of the difference this program is making in our community as we continue to fight the opioid epidemic here in Springfield.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released provisional drug overdose death counts in July showing approximately 93,000 predicted overdose deaths in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The estimate indicates an approximately 29% increase from 72,000 overdose deaths in 2019. The data also estimates that 60% of overdose deaths in 2020 involved fentanyl.

In Springfield, Narcan is attached to the automated external defibrillator (AED) in every marked, unmarked and undercover car used by the department so that each of the approximately 500 sworn officers who have access to an AED also have access to Narcan. Additionally, Narcan is available to all bureaus and in all satellite locations, and is stationed throughout the public safety complex.

Proper use of the medication is taught to officers during the police academy as well as each year during in-service training. As part of the training, officers learn the appropriate circumstances for Narcan use, how to administer doses and proper disposal methods after a dose is given.

The program originally began in 2019 using department funding. The Hampden District’s Attorney’s Office has committed grant funding in recent years to provide Narcan for police and fire departments in the county, which provides the Springfield Police Department with funding to replenish its supply as needed.

“God Bless our brave and dedicated men and women of the Springfield Police Department. Day in and day out our SPD officers continue to do their job of serving and protecting our community. This has never been more evident than with the increase in opioid-related overdoses,” Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said. “Thanks to our SPD carrying Narcan, they can immediately respond to these unfortunate situations and save lives and just as important, steer them towards recovery program assistance. Since SPD started carrying Narcan in their vehicles over 375 lives have been saved, a testament to their selfless service to our community and those in need.”