State trooper in Griswold uses Narcan to save overdose victim's life

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Griswold — A week after he started carrying Narcan, a medication used to reverse the effects of opiate narcotics such as heroin, a state trooper saved the life of an overdose victim in Griswold, police say.

Trooper Steven Gardner was called Wednesday to assist Griswold Ambulance with an unresponsive 40-year-old man, a suspected overdose victim. Gardner administered a dose of naloxone hydrochloride, commonly known as Narcan. The man responded immediately and became conscious. He was taken to The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, where he is expected to make a full recovery.

Gardner was the first trooper to administer the drug under the new law that took effect on Oct. 1 allowing use of Narcan by troopers without fear of litigation, according to State Police Trooper Kelly Grant.

All state troopers completed training on administration of the nasal spray form of Narcan last month and started carrying the drug earlier this month. State Police used money from asset forfeitures taken from crime suspects to fund the training.

Responding to major increases in overdose deaths across the state, the state legislature passed a law in May that grants immunity to those administering the drug. Under prior law, only licensed health care providers were allowed to administer Narcan because of liability issues. A law passed in 2012 allows anyone in close contact with a person with an opioid addiction to obtain Narcan.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued a statement Thursday congratulating Gardner.

He said the ability to provide state troopers with Narcan came from a collaborative effort between several state agencies including Department of Emergency Service and Public Protection, the state Department of Public Health, the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the state Department of Correction.

“We must continue to do everything in our power to combat drug abuse and remove every potential barrier to Narcan use,” Malloy said in the statement. “Earlier this year, I signed legislation granting civil and criminal liability protection to bystanders who administer Narcan in good faith to someone who has overdosed. Training and equipping our troopers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders with Narcan is the next common-sense step in our efforts to reduce overdoses resulting from heroin and prescription drug overdoses.”

State police recently started provided training classes on the administration of Narcan to local fire and police departments across the state, Malloy said.

In Connecticut, on average, one person dies every day from an opioid overdose. Heroin has contributed to 257 fatal, accidental overdoses in Connecticut last year. In New London County, the number of deaths related to heroin grew from 23 in 2012 to 34 in 2013.

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: @SmittyDay

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