ARMED & READY TO INJECT: Cops & heroin overdose

Posted at 10:34 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 22:40:59-04

Law enforcement agencies across the state of Florida are carrying a drug that reverses a potentially deadly overdose. Even though there were more than 200 overdoses last year in southwest Florida, local officers aren't carrying it.

"I started partying when I was probably 14-years-old. I didn't really have an addiction until I turned about 21. My addiction went from pills to heroin, and everything got worse," Lynda Brown said.

She never thought she'd turn to heroin, but when the pills became harder to find, she needed her fix.

"It's not even about being high anymore. It's just about waking up and not feeling dope sick, and body aches, and I don't miss it," Brown said.

Brown doesn't miss it because she's been living without it. She hasn't touched heroin since 2014 when she overdosed.

"I had no idea it happened. When I started coming to, everybody's voices were kind of echoing around me. It wasn't a good feeling," she said.

That year, there were 121 heroin overdoses at Lee Memorial Health System. The number nearly doubling to 201 in 2015.

"It's all over the streets. It seems like almost every week I'm hearing of someone else dying from it," Brown said.

Heroin most recently took the life of her friend, Sadie Walters.

"It's hard, you know? Not everyone has the chance I do. Not everyone makes it out," Brown said.

That's why some law enforcement agencies are arming themselves with an injection for heroin overdose.

"This is a long, hard fought battle we've been working on for many years," Sgt. Donny Kennard of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said.

SCSO was the first in Florida to use the autoinjectors filled with a drug called Naloxone.

Once injected, the drugs knock the heroin off of the receptors inside your body, like reversing then hitting the pause button on an overdose. It's only temporary until you can get medical attention at a hospital.

"If you're deceased, you're deceased, but if you're in that window of severe respiratory depression, this drug gives you a chance to bring someone back that would otherwise not be saved," Sgt. Kennard said.

Paramedics in the state are required to carry the drug, and law enforcement agencies in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte have discussed it, but haven't made any decisions.

"For law enforcement agencies considering this, what would you want to say to them?" Four in Your Corner's Lisa Greenberg asked Sgt. Kennard.

"The drug addicted individuals are our citizens as well. And we treat them with the same respect and dignity that we treat all citizens, and we would hope that agencies would really look to provide tools for their individuals to help make a difference and save a life," he answered.

The drug could help save lives like Brown's. She's gotten a second chance, one she won't risk by taking drugs.

"For a long time, I just accepted I'm an addict and this is it, and my life's not going to get any better, but I let go of that and I know my life can get better. And I don't have to be using drugs," Brown said.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office said they are looking into this now in their training section, and cannot comment at this time.

They said to check back once their training section is complete.