CPD officer’s quick action saves life - Republic-Times | News

CPD officer’s quick action saves life

By on July 27, 2016 at 12:45 pm
Columbia Police Sgt. Josh Bayer

Columbia Police Sgt. Josh Bayer

While it may merely serve as a band-aid for a larger problem plaguing more and more each day, the opioid antidote known as Narcan can save lives.

Narcan, or naloxone, has been widely used by both Monroe County EMS and Columbia EMS for several years, but last week marked the first such incident in which a local police officer administered Narcan in a life-or-death situation.

Last Wednesday night, Columbia Police Sgt. Josh Bayer responded to a home in the 10000 block of Levee Road for a woman overdosing on heroin.  While the address is just outside of city limits, Bayer recognized he was the closest first responder to this particular call and didn’t hesitate. He knew quick intervention was needed based on the information provided by the dispatcher.

Bayer arrived on scene and administered Narcan in its nasal form to the woman. Narcan reverses an opioid overdose and can revive someone suffering an overdose.

A Monroe County EMS ambulance arrived a short time after Bayer’s life-saving effort and transported the woman to an area hospital, where she survived.

“It was a ‘seconds count’ situation,” Bayer said. “Without (Narcan), the outcome could’ve been much different. We’re administering this to basically keep them breathing.”

All Columbia patrol cars now carry Narcan, which has been the case for just over the past year. All Columbia police officers have been trained on how to administer Narcan through a coordinated effort by Dr. Jeff Schaefer of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Columbia EMS Director Shannon Bound.

The cost of a single dose of Narcan with its nasal atomizer is about $70.

Bayer has worked on the Columbia police force since 2003, and also serves as an EMT basic with Columbia EMS. He has been on “a few too many” drug overdose calls in his EMT capacity over the years, but this was the first time he had to administer Narcan on his own.

“I look at the individual as a patient. They’re a person who suffers from an addiction,”Bayer said. “It’s a positive feeling to be able to do something like this as part of your job.”

Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul praised Bayer for his quick and effective response.

“From the information relayed to me by individuals at the scene, the female requiring medical assistance was in dire condition and if not for Sgt. Bayer’s expeditious actions, she probably would not have survived,” Paul said. “We are proud of his quick actions at this incident as well as our other officers who assist with all ambulance calls for service on a daily basis.”

Bayer said that when he started in law enforcement several years ago, he never thought he would be part of a pre-hospital medicine situation such as this.

“Unfortunately, it has come to that,” Bayer said.

Bound said Columbia EMS has carried Narcan for more than 10 years and administered it 10 times in just the past year alone.

Monroe County EMS has carried Narcan for more than 20 years and administered it nine times over the past year. Monroe County EMS has handled 21 drug overdose calls in just the past six months — three of them alcohol-related.

“Heroin is so addictive, they just have to do it every day,” Bayer said. “But nobody deserves to die over a drug.”

The Waterloo Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department are also looking into having their officers carry Narcan for overdose situations.

“We have had an officer attend a ‘train the trainer’ course on Narcan use by patrol officers and he will be training our officers in its use,” Waterloo Police Chief Jim Trantham said. “We will then start carrying it in our patrol cars.”

A new Heroin Crisis Act in Illinois greatly expands access to Narcan, including making it available at drug stores and high schools, as well as boosting the number of first responders carrying the drug.

The act allows pharmacies to dispense opiate overdose reversal drugs to individuals and permits police and fire agencies to join EMS personnel in being trained to administer, store and transport them.

The act also permits school nurses to administer Narcan and requires reporting on it.

Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.