Right now, the United States in in the midst of an opioid epidemic. In 2016, there were more than 64,000 overdose deaths in the country.
The Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative program, also known as “TONI,” is dedicated to educating the public about overdose prevention.
Today, Bell County officers were trained on what they can do on overdose calls.
“We are training law enforcement officers to administer Noroxcon, or Narcan, which is a medicine that reverses the effects of those opioids and can save lives,” says Baylor Scott & White Emergency Physician Taylor Ratcliff.
Bell County officers will soon be carrying a TONI pack containing medicine to help a person if they are overdosing.
“Law enforcement arrives first in the majority of these cases, so equipping them with this medication allows them to administrate very quickly and restore breathing, which we know that is important to happen fast,” Ratcliff explains.
This is especially important if police officers are responding in a rural area and can’t get the person to a hospital right away.
“Where they in fact may be the only first responders that get there, right, they may be the first ones on the scene of an overdose,” says TONI Co-Founder Mark Kinzley.
TONI is a program going around the country to train officers and the community.
“They know how to recognize, respond and evaluate an overdose and have this medication on hand,” explains Kinzley.
If officers don’t have this medication, a person could die before going to the hospital.
Kinzley adds, “They need to have this medication in order to save their fellow Texans from dying. Every piece of education, equipment and material that we can give to law enforcement to do their job the best they can is critically important.”
The treatment is helping to save as many lives as possible.
“I don’t think making some bad decision should cost people their lives,” Ratcliff says.