Westwood to allow police officers to administer Narcan in opioid overdose encounters

Naloxone can stem the effects of opioids, helping prevent death from overdose. Photo credit Jeff Anderson. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Westwood’s city council last week approved a measure that will allow police officers to administer naloxone, also known as Narcan, in the case of an opioid overdose. Mayor John Yé will sign an agreement with Johnson County’s Board of County Commissioners “to provide medical direction for the opioid antagonist protocol for the City of Westwood,” according to city documents.

“The opioid epidemic is a serious problem across the nation and here in Johnson County,” Police Chief Greg O’Halloran said. “When someone overdoses on opioids, minutes count. Sometimes the best hope for survival are the initial first responders on scene, which are often police officers.”

The police department will receive training on how to administer an opioid antagonist to someone who has overdosed on Oct. 16. O’Halloran said the nasal spray has a low cost, is easy to administer and will help save lives.

Councilmember Jeff Harris asked O’Halloran if any officers have encountered an opioid instance. O’Halloran said there has been one instance in Westwood that he knows of, but there may have been one more. Additionally, O’Halloran said there are over 200 opioid overdoses in the county and in the off-chance a Westwood officer would need to help out in another city, they would be prepared. The ordinance passed unanimously.

Last year, the Shawnee Mission School District entered a similar agreement to allow school nurses to store and administer naloxone. This allows school nurses to administer the drug to anyone who may overdose on opioids while on district property, including students, staff and visitors.