Oak Park cops are now equipped with a drug used by law enforcement and others to save the lives of those overdosing on heroin and other opioid-based drugs.
The request for police officers to begin carrying the drug — Oak Park officers are now equipped with Naloxone, often sold under the brand name Narcan — first came from Oak Park Township Supervisor David Boulanger as a way to prevent overdoses.
Oak Park police are often the first responders to the scene of an overdose and, in the short time it takes for paramedics to arrive, this can mean the difference between life and death, Boulanger argued.
A state law that went into effect in January requires all police officers in Illinois to carry the drug.
“By having access to Naloxone, our officers in the street can act quickly if they encounter someone experiencing an overdose. This really is a common-sense measure that can help save lives,” Oak Park Police Chief Anthony Ambrose said in a press release.
Oak Park firefighters, who already carry Naloxone, administered the drug 43 times in 2015 and 46 times in 2014.
The village press release noted that heroin users often purchase the drug in Chicago and seek safer communities to consume it, such as Oak Park.
The Centers for Disease Control report that overdose deaths in Illinois were up 8.3 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the village press release.
The Naloxone doses were paid for through a grant from the Cook County Overdose Prevention Program, the village said.