New Opportunities provides law enforcement officers with nasal sprays Tuesday morning that counteract opioid overdoses and trained them how to use the sprays. Pictured are (from left) Carroll County Sheriff Ken Pingrey; Carroll Police Chief Brad Burke; Chad Jensen, New Opportunities Chief Executive Officer; and Melissa Vanderheiden and Leslie James, New Opportunities substance abuse counselors.
New Opportunities provides law enforcement officers with nasal sprays Tuesday morning that counteract opioid overdoses and trained them how to use the sprays. Pictured are (from left) Carroll County Sheriff Ken Pingrey; Carroll Police Chief Brad Burke; Chad Jensen, New Opportunities Chief Executive Officer; and Melissa Vanderheiden and Leslie James, New Opportunities substance abuse counselors.

March 8, 2018

Substance abuse counselors trained local law officers on Tuesday how to administer a nasal spray that is designed to counteract an opioid overdose.

The training was part of a $40,000 state grant awarded to New Opportunities, which also bought kits with the spray that will be carried in patrol vehicles.

“Basically, you only have two to five minutes to administer this spray into their system, and if you don’t, they’re going to die,” said Chad Jensen, chief executive of New Opportunities.

The abuse of opioids — such as prescription painkillers, heroin and the synthetic and very powerful fentanyl — has become increasingly problematic in the past few years across the country.

The number of overdoses in the Midwest increased 70 percent between July 2016 and September 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. About 115 Americans die each day from the overdoses, on average.

Some overdoses have been reported in Carroll County in recent years, but “we think it’s really going to ramp up here in the next three to six months,” Jensen said. “This is hitting eastern Iowa really, really hard. With our experience, we watch eastern Iowa. Whatever is happening there is probably headed this way.”

Until this week it was the job of paramedics to administer the lifesaving drug, which is called naloxone, but they aren’t always the first to arrive to a call for help.

With the kits, a police officer or deputy sheriff who finds someone with the symptoms of an overdose — slow breathing, blue lips, gurgling, etc. — sprays the drug into one of the person’s nostrils and waits a few minutes to see if it takes effect. If not, a second spray is administered in the other nostril.

Two substance abuse counselors for New Opportunities, Leslie James and Melissa Vanderheiden, attended a seminar that taught them how to train officers to use the kits, which cost between $200 and $250 apiece. The sprays come in a zippered pouch and were added to medical kits in the patrol vehicles.

The most prominent abuse of opioids in Carroll County has been largely confined to prescription painkillers. Several people have been arrested for going into houses and stealing the pills.

A nurse anesthetist was arrested last year for stealing fentanyl — which he was supposed to use for patients’ pain relief and sedation — and abusing it himself.