By Lucas Lloyd
INDIANAPOLIS – Members of the community made their way to the Indianapolis Police Department for a training day on how to administer Narcan, a medication that counteracts the effects of an overdose from opioids such as Oxycontin or heroin.
The rise in overdoses over the past several years has prompted officials to act.
Example of the syringe that would be used to administer Narcan. Attendees were able to handle the device to see how it is to be used. Photo by Lucas Lloyd, TheStatehouseFile.com
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said these individuals are committing low level offenses, getting arrested and going to jail. The problem is they don’t receive any significant help to change.
“They serve their time and then once they are released, they go back to doing the same thing,” said Hogsett. “We need to stop that cycle.”
The training on Thursday was focused on those who are homeless outreach providers because individuals who are often in direct contact with those at high risk of overdose.
These individuals are known as “lay responders” and as of July 1 of last year they can carry Narcan to assist people. In the past, the protocol was to call authorities and wait for assistance.
The participants in the training learned how to recognize the signs of an overdose, access medical services and administer nasal Narcan.
Resources through organizations like the Reuben Engagement Center are becoming available to provide aid for people in the community in need.
The Reuben Engagement Center was launched to provide community resources for problems caused by drugs and mental health issues, said Julie Fidler, housing and services specialist for the office of public health and safety for the Indianapolis-based organization.
“Folks who are homeless and under the influence of a substance and may have a concurring mental health issue will go there, basically it is a diversion from arrest,” said Fidler.
The goal of the engagement center is to “provide shelter, medical detox, case management, mental health evaluations, and housing referrals to chronically homeless, substance-addicted, mentally ill individuals,” according to the Indianapolis Continuum of Care website.
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said changing the way of acting on these calls comes from the growing awareness about overdoses.
“A social worker, a police officer, a paramedic are taking these runs rather than an officer that doesn’t have quite the training, so maybe instead of going to jail or immediate detention at the time they quall the situation and get them into services a little better than we’ve done in the past,” said Roach.
Following the training, the participants were eligible to receive an overdose prevention kit to take home with them.
Lucas Lloyd is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.