Updated at 10:58 a.m. on Thursday, October 22, 2015.
Police at UMass Amherst will soon be carrying Narcan, a drug that reverses an opioid induced overdose.
UMass Interim Police Chief Patrick Archbald says even though his force has not seen a prevalent use of opioids like heroin and oxycontin on campus, it’s unrealistic to think it doesn’t exist. And he calls the decision to have officers administer a drug that’s usually been left to EMT’s and paramedics, a pro-active move.
“In the case of the university and the Amherst Fire Department who supports the campus for medical response, they’re usually not too far behind us,” says Archbald. “But even just knowing how quickly Narcan can reverse the opioid overdose, where seconds matter, it just made sense to have the officers have it. And if we can save a life, it was well worth it.”
Archbald says he hopes to have his 60-person force trained in its use by the end of November. Campus police at Hampshire, Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges are already carrying Narcan in their medical kit. And a spokesperson at Springfield College says the school is considering whether to have its police do the same.
Correction: Based on our interview with Patrick Archbald, we misidentified him as the Interim Deputy Police Chief in an earlier version of this story. He is, in fact, Interim Police Chief.