Public safety agencies in Douglas County may soon be seeing an increase of drug overdose reports that are in progress. At least they’re hoping so, and they are preparing for it, in hopes of saving more lives.

The agencies are increasing the doses of antidotes carried by their emergency responders, in hopes that people will be more willing to report the overdose while it’s still in progress, so there is the opportunity to save the patient.

Senate Bill 839 passed in the 2015 Oregon legislature provided certain exemptions from arrest and prosecution to people who are overdosing, as well as to those who report the overdoses, in the hopes that they will be more inclined to call in the incidents before it is too late to save the patient.

Several local agencies are working to provide the training and antidotes to the emergency responders.

Adapt’s South River Community Health Center and the Douglas Public Health Network provided the first round of training and equipment to the Winston Police Department, Douglas County Jail, and Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team.

The antidote Naloxone Hydrochloride is used in those cases, and officials say it works quickly and without side effects, to reverse the opiate-overdoses until the patient can be hospitalized.

Several doses of the antidote are already in the field with some of those first responders.

Additional assistance in funding the training and purchase of antidotes has been offered by groups like the Mercy Foundation and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

HIV Alliance, a local nonprofit, is providing Naloxone to clients and community members. HIV Alliance provides HIV Care, Prevention and Education in 11 counties including Douglas.

In Douglas County, they offer HIV Care Management & Employment Services, Free HIV Testing, Condoms, Syringe Exchange and Youth Education.

Douglas County’s Opiate Task Force is planning to provide training and the Naloxone to rural and volunteer fire departments and emergency medical responders next, including the Sutherlin Public Safety Department.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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