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Seven fatal overdoses in Ironton in 2018 so far

Health department gets Narcan for first responders

Ironton has had seven overdose deaths since Jan. 1.

That was part of the news Ironton Police Chief Pam Wagner told the Ironton City Council at their meeting on Thursday.

She was updating the council about things in the department including that their new cruisers are all on the road and that they recently got a grant for new TASERs.

“Our opioid epidemic is in full bloom,” she said. “We’ve already had seven fatal overdoses, from Jan. 1 until now.”

Laura Brown, the director of the Ironton Health Department, said that Cardinal Health gave them 108 units of Narcan, which counteracts the effects of a narcotics overdose.

“We got those free, to give to our police and fire departments and our first responders,” she said, adding that the doses cost around $75 each.

Councilman Bob Cleary asked if the health department could give the shots and Brown explained that it was a nasal spray, but they could give the Narcan and do CPR or whatever is needed until an ambulance could arrive.

Councilman Craig Harvey, who works at Ohio University as director of health technology, said that some people are worried what the effect of Narcan is when it used on someone who isn’t overdosing on narcotics.

“It’s like giving them water, there is no effect on somebody that is not overdosing on opioids,” he said.

Brown pointed out that many people who have had surgery might have had Narcan.

“It is a reversal drug that you get in the recovery room,” she said. “If they put you too far under and you aren’t rousing like you normally would, they give you Narcan as well.”

Mayor Katrina Keith pointed out that the city health department has trained fire and police officers on how to use the Narcan spray already.

Chief Wagner said that Captain Rob Johnson, along with assistance of the city finance director John Elam, have been heading up the department’s grant program since she took over.

They recently got a nearly $10,000 grant to get TASERs.

“That is money that the government has given us for equipment that we desperately need,” Wagner said.

She said they are also applying for body armor and a school resource officer, although the grant windows is closed now, but should reopen this spring.

Council member Beth Rist asked Wagner if the police department had a plan in place in case of a school shooting.

“We do. We do active shooter training every year,” the chief said.

She added that the police officers are trained in special tactics and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office has an officer at the high school every day and the police department has an officer at the middle/elementary school.

“Most of our guys are SRT (special response tactics) trained, including myself,” she said. “But we are going to keep our fingers crossed that it never happens.”

She said they are refining plans about having officers at schools, such as staggering the times they are at schools.

“We want to make it a little more unpredictable,” she said. “Predictability, that’s what the bad guys love. They want to be able to know our plans.”