Oak Park police officers will soon be equipped with an anti-opioid overdose drug known as Narcan, confirmed Oak Park Deputy Police Chief Tony Ambrose.
A state law that went into effect in January mandates that all Illinois police departments begin carrying the drug in an effort to prevent overdoses from heroin and opioid-based prescription drugs.
Ambrose said in a telephone interview that the OPPD is working with the Oak Park Fire Department to receive training and grant funding for the Narcan program.
Oak Park Deputy Fire Chief Peter Pilafas said in a telephone interview that fire department paramedics have been trained to administer Narcan for some time and used it an average of four times a month in 2014 and 2015.
Pilafas applied on May 20 for the grant, which will cover 100 percent of the costs for the OPPD program, and it was approved three days later.
He said now police and fire department officials will attend a training seminar to instruct police officers on how to administer the drug.
Earlier this year, Oak Park Township Supervisor David Boulanger made a plea to the Oak Park Board of Trustees to have the local police department begin using the drug because of its potential to save lives.
He argued that police are often first responders to the scene of an overdose, and the time it takes for medical professionals to arrive on the scene can mean the difference between life and death.
Pilafas said the police department still must establish rules and regulations for use of Narcan, but he expects the program to be up and running by the end of July or early August.
“We’re just happy the fire department can assist the police department with the implementation of this program,” said Pilafas, noting that DuPage County police departments already are trained to carry and administer Narcan. Similarly, the River Forest Police Department began equipping their officers with the anti-OD drug in 2015.
The grant to the OPPD is provided through pharmaceutical company Kaleo Inc., which makes EVZIO, an auto-injector pen for administering Naloxone, a form of Narcan. The EVZIO program will be run by the Orland Fire Protection District, according to a news release from Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison, who has pushed for legislation requiring police departments to carry Narcan.