CHAMBERS COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) A potentially life-saving event took place Wednesday inside the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office as two women, grieving family and friends taken by opioid overdoses, placed a life-saving reversal drug in the hands of deputies.
Chambers County Deputies now have Narcan kits in their patrol vehicles. Narcan nasal spray is a form of Noloxone, a benign treatment for reversing a deadly opioid overdose if administered in time.
The main concern is Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, 50 times more potent than heroin. Officers who have accidentally touched fentanyl, during a search or arrest, have overdosed and nearly died. Now, Chambers deputies have Narcan for themselves and to help others who are overdosing.
“It is personal for me,” shared Kacey Cox who lost her 23-year old nephew Chandler last year when he swallowed a Xanaz pill laced with Fentanyl. Even as a registered nurse, Cox had no idea Narcan could have saved Chandler’s life if administered in time.
“So it is our mission in life to make sure everyone in both Georgia and Alabama know about that,” said Cox.
Out of her grief, The Chandler Foundation was born. The group’s first success is connecting Chambers County Sheriff’s Office with Alabama’s Harm Reduction Coalition, who helped secure a $4200.00 from the Alabama Department of Mental Health to fund Narcan kits for all 28 Chambers County deputies. News 3 was told and reported on-air the grant was for $2100.00. The information was updated after the story aired.
“I sleep better at night knowing the guys who are out there at night searching cars and who may run into it and are overcome with it that we do have a method we can use to save them,” said Chief Deputy Richard Carter.
Ella Bannister is the founder of Alabama Harm Reduction Coalition. The group is working on its non-profit status. Bannister is a drug counselor and a former first responder who has seen the impacts of drug addiction devastate family and friends.
“What we can do is allow officers, individuals, individuals of use, and impacted family to be able to have this so we can put some brakes on this train that is coming…because it is coming,” shared Bannister.
The CDC reports more than 70-thousand overdose in 2017. The national epidemic is growing, recognized President Trump and the U.S. Surgeon General who’ve worked to free up funding to distribute 2.7 million doses of the reversal drug.
“It’s important to remove the stigma. This is not an indigent problem, not a homeless problem, this is a problem that does not discriminate with age or socia economic groups. It is a disease, and it will kill folks,” said Bannister.
Bannister says data cards come with each kit. Aafter a deputy uses a dose, necessary information is collected and sent into the state. Bannister says information collected is vital to understanding the opioid addiction in Alabama and securing funding to fight it.