Montville police will soon carry Narcan after policy is approved

Narcan® Nasal Spray, a branded intranasal formulation of naloxone, is depicted on an unknown date. Photo by Matthew Rakola, courtesy of Narcan® Nasal Spray.
Narcan® Nasal Spray, a branded intranasal formulation of naloxone, is depicted on an unknown date. Photo by Matthew Rakola, courtesy of Narcan® Nasal Spray.

Montville — A year after Montville police said they would start supplying the department's officers with naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, a policy is in effect and the drug is on its way to Montville cruisers.

State Police Sgt. Mark Juhola, who is stationed as Montville's resident state trooper, has spent the last 12 months drafting a policy outlining Montville officers’ use of naloxone, more commonly known by the brand name Narcan.

The policy was delayed in the face of pushback from the head of the department’s union, who voiced reluctance to take on medical responsibilities, as well as a request from The William W. Backus Hospital doctor who is writing the department’s prescription for the drug that all the department’s officers have training in emergency medicine.

Finally, last week, the Town Council approved the new policy, which also has the thumbs up from Kyle McClaine, the emergency medical services director at Backus and co-chairman of the Connecticut EMS Medical Advisory Committee.

“Opioid overdose is one of the leading causes of accidental death in Connecticut,” the policy reads. “To reduce the number of fatalities which can result from opiate overdoses, the Montville Police Department will train its officers in the proper pre-hospital rescue ventilation and administration of injectable and/or intra-nasal atomization Naloxone (Narcan)."

Juhola said half of the department’s 26 officers have been trained to use the nasal spray devices on overdose victims, and the other half will be trained soon.

“We will continue to get everyone up to speed,” he said.

The Southeastern Regional Action Council — a nonprofit that helps local municipalities address substance abuse and addiction — will help the department get its first doses of naloxone and training for free, Juhola said.

Last year, while the policy was still being written, Montville officer Robin Salvatore, the president of the department's union, expressed concern about the policy to town officials and threatened to file a union grievance with the department.

Salvatore, who leads the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4 Local 2504, said asking police to administer Narcan was an “officer safety concern.”

"We're not medical people," she said. "If we wanted to be EMT's we would be EMT's."

All the officers being trained in using Narcan have been certified as emergency medical responders, Juhola said.

Salvatore did not respond to a request for comment on the policy.

Most of Montville fire departments and paramedics carry Narcan, but Juhola said last year that a police officer is often the first to the scene of an overdose, arriving before the first paramedic.

“We want the officers to be able to respond … and do something, and not just stand there,” he said. “When you’re not breathing, it does make a difference.”

m.shanahan@theday.com

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