Deputies train in administering heroin antidote

Lenny Millholland

A life-saving drug for heroin addicts and others who overdose on opioid drugs will soon be available for Frederick County sheriff’s deputies to administer on emergency calls.

Naloxone, an injectable drug previously limited to trained members of rescue squad crews, has a proven track record in reviving overdose victims that led Sheriff Lenny Millholland to describe it as a “wonder drug.”

Sometimes law enforcement officers are the first arrivals at an emergency scene, especially when ambulances have to travel long distances on back roads to reach a stricken patient.

“If fire and rescue is a short distance away, law enforcement agencies are not going get in the middle of it,” Millholland said of treating overdoses. “In our case, we’ve got 416 square miles and fire and rescue might not be there by the time we get there. If we can save a life by getting there, that’s the name of the game.”

Frederick County deputies were trained during the first week of February through a grant program run by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office. Herring announced last year that his office would be offering Naloxone training sessions to law enforcement agencies around the state.

“Any agency ought to check into using it,” Millholland said. “If you have the opportunity and are too far from medical treatment, it could be the first step in saving someone’s life.”

The drug is administered through a device called an auto-injector, one end of which is placed against the middle of the patient’s outer thigh then pressed and held in place for five seconds. The injector’s needle is designed to penetrate clothing on the patient, if necessary.

The Sheriff’s Office is awaiting the arrival of a shipment of Naloxone before deputies can use their training in the field.

“I just know we’re in for about 400 units,” Millholland said of the Naloxone. “When we get it, we’ll be happy.”

Frederick County is the first of the area law enforcement agencies to train deputies in the use of Naloxone, but it may not be the last.

Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron said his agency has talked about the same training for his deputies, but is holding off for now.

“We’re just making sure whatever we do liability wise, the deputies will be covered,” McEathron said, adding that he was also concerned that the grant-funded training is a temporary program.

“At some point, you’re going to have start paying for it,” McEathron said. “It’s a good idea. We’re looking at it, but we’re not yet at the point of implementing it.”

Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office said his agency has also been considering Naloxone training, but has made no commitment.

“There’s been ongoing discussions,” Proctor said. “It’s not been put to rest.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com