Kennesaw State police trained to carry and administer life-saving drug
KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug. 14, 2014) - When seconds count, Kennesaw State University police now have the…
Georgia (Aug 14, 2014) —
KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug. 14, 2014) - When seconds count, Kennesaw State University police now have the ability to add minutes to the clock in the event of an opioid overdose. This week, the department became the first university police department in Georgia to carry Naloxone, an antidote for heroin and other opioid overdoses.
"This drug saves lives; it’s that simple,” said Police Chief Roger Lee Stearns. "Deployment of this antidote is one more way we strive to be prepared as a professional law enforcement agency in service to the campus community.”
Dr. Megan Bowles, director of KSU Health Services and a WellStar physician, trained the department’s 40 sworn officers on the use of Naloxone, which is administered via a nasal spray.
"In Georgia drug overdoses, prescription drugs are the leading cause of death," Bowles said. "Prescription drug opioid use can lead to heroin abuse as a person has more difficulty finding prescription pain medications or the cost of illegally buying the medication escaltes."
According to Tanya Smith, the department’s program coordinator for Naloxone, though the United States accounts for only 4 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 99 percent of the world’s opiates.
Smith, who joined the department in June, previously championed a bill in the Georgia Legislature that gives amnesty to people who call for help in the case of a drug overdose. If the police are called to the scene of a heroin overdose, the drugs will be confiscated, but no one will be arrested, including anyone on parole or probation who happens to be there. That doesn’t mean, however, that those involved won’t face consequences. If an incident on campus occurs, university judicial proceedings may still apply.
“We want them to call 911,” Smith said. “We’re not trying to enable drug use; we're trying to save lives."
Smith lost her daughter, Taylor Smith, to a methamphetamine overdose that triggered a fatal asthma attack in 2013. Her daughter, like many others, died because the people she was with were afraid to call for help out of fear they would be arrested.
HB 965, or the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law, provides the same protection for people who call about alcohol-induced emergencies.
“Saving a life is far more important than sticking someone with a criminal charge,” Stearns said. “With students coming back to campus this week, we wanted to fast-track the rollout of this initiative; we didn’t want to be a day late and a dollar short, if it’s needed.”
With more than 3,500 students moving onto campus this week, Dean of Student Success Michael Sanseviro welcomed the arrival of the antidote drug.
"It is always so sad when young adults pay the ultimate price for what might have been a brief foolish choice, such as using heroin," Sanseviro said. "Luckily we have been spared this grief at KSU, but I feel better as the dean of students just knowing this life-saving tool is available at our university."
Photo by: David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.