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Editorial: Make Narcan available

In order to serve and protect our communities, it is necessary that our police officers be outfitted with the proper equipment. Given what Franklin County communities are seeing in the way of heroin overdoses, it’s time that Narcan be added to what they carry.

And since this is epidemic covers not just our area but the rest of Massachusetts as well, the state should be stepping forward to help towns cover the cost of this medicine — which can counteract an opiate overdose and save a life.

This call for the issuance of Narcan is not an unusual one. Police departments around the country, including many in the Northeast, have begun to consider having this powerful prescription medicine as part of their arsenal when it comes to treating overdose victims. Buffalo, N.Y., police officers are expected to be trained in the administering of the drug soon and in Rhode Island, the superintendent of state police has announced that troopers will be trained in the administration of Narcan and will carrying it with them.

Meanwhile, the Maine Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee has backed a bill that gets this prescription medicine — administered either as nasal spray or injection — into the hands of not only the police or firefighters but also to drug users and their families.

As Maine state Rep. Sara Gideon put it in support of this measure, “The alternative is that people are dying. There is a way to save those people’s lives.”

As reported earlier this year, the regional Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force is in favor of making this antidote for heroin or other opiate overdoses more easily available. “... Our big push right now is Narcan,” Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan, a member of the task force said recently. The task force wants to be able to use money in the supplemental state budget earmarked for its effort in this drug crisis to hire an administrator who can, among other things, “... help with a coordinated, commonsense approach to potential distribution of Narcan in the community.”

That person, too, might be able to coordinate more training sessions for the public on administering the medicine, much like the training that has occurred through a joint effort of The RECOVER Project and Tapestry Health in Greenfield.

Franklin County officials are taking a very active role in trying to turn the tide of this health issue that has deadly consequences, but they can’t do it alone.

Monday’s conference at Greenfield Community College is an indication that the state is beginning to pay attention. We call on the state to help provide the financial support necessary to make sure our communities have the proper equipment to save lives.

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