Iowa City Police saves several lives with Narcan over the past year

Narcan is a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 2:23 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -The Iowa City Police Department has used Narcan to save nine lives since all of their officers started carrying it last fall. Narcan is a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Iowa City Police Officer Emilio Puente has saved two lives with Narcan over the past year. One reason why officers started carrying the spray is because they sometimes get to a scene faster than paramedics. Since it takes away a person’s high, each outcome after administering it is different.

“We’ve had people who get extremely mad and start fighting with us,” said Puente. “I also had someone who I saved, and they started tearing up and thankful since they had a second chance at life.”

Part of that second chance is getting the person help, and not arresting them. “In Iowa City we don’t believe that an opioid overdose is a crime<” said Puente. “It’s more of a mental health issue or a medical issue that needs to be addressed by a doctor, not by police.”

Workers at GuideLink Center in Iowa City say Substance abuse has been a problem during the pandemic. They screen more than 40 people per month for substance abuse services.

“The biggest thing is just reaching out for help. So it can be walking into GuideLink Center,” said Aiden Rohwer-Nutter, GuideLink Program Manager. “We’re open 24/7, 365, you can just come into our doors and you immediately are going to talk to one of our counselors.”

Puente thinks Narcan is something all police departments should invest in. “There’s no reason not to carry it,” he said. “It’s like learning CPR.”

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