The Omaha Police Department has been equipping and training officers with Narcan, an emergency treatment that blocks or reverses the effects of an opioid for nearly a year. Last month, two police officers put that training to use.
Officers Christopher Smith and Andrew Ray, who have been with the department for nearly three years, were called on an overdose call on May 27th shortly after 7pm.
"It first came on as an overdose. We didn't know if it was drugs or alcohol. And on our way to the house, it had been updated that he had overdosed on heroin," said Ray.
When officers arrived at the residence, the pair found a man unresponsive.
"He was blue in color. We checked his pulse and he had a faint pulse - kind of shallow sporadic breathing so with the information we were provided plus the signs we saw it was apparent he was suffering from an opioid overdose," added Smith.
Before paramedics arrived, Smith took out his Narcan nasal spray and gave the man a hit. A few minutes later, paramedics instructed Smith to give him another hit.
"He slowly started reacting to the hits. It was the first time I had ever used Narcan. And it worked in this case," said Smith.
Both officers carry the Narcan nasal spray inside their vests.
"It's easily accessible being in my vest versus being in my car or my work bag or in a pocket where it can get crushed," said Ray. "It also needs to stay at a controlled temperature and as a police officer, I know how to keep my body cool so it's a good place to have it."
The officers say this is an example of how bringing Narcan to the department is helping OPD fight the opioid epidemic.
"We get plenty of call on opioid overdoses. It's not pinpointed to one part of town. It's all over the city, all ranges of age, race, ethnicity - it doesn't matter," said Ray.
The duo emphasized Narcan helps protect them as well.
"We have to be careful too. With this huge fentanyl epidemic, it's airborne. We don't know if we're going to be exposed. So I'd rather have this tool to save my life, my partner's life, a fellow police officer and of course any citizen of the city," said Ray.
Last August, 150 boxes of Narcan were anonymously donated to the department.
All officers are trained on how and when to use Narcan, but it's voluntary for officers to carry the spray.