17th person saved from opioid overdose in Novi

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Novi police and fire officials early Tuesday saved the 17th person who might’ve died of an opioid overdose if not for use of naloxone, a drug that reverses the overdose process.

Emergency crews were dispatched at 2:54 a.m. on a report of an unresponsive male in the 23300 block of West LeBost, east of Meadowbrook and south of 10 Mile. The man was still was breathing, but police and fire officials determined there was the possibility of heroin use. A police officer had a kit of naloxone ready to spray and handed it to a fire captain, who dispensed it, said Novi Assistant Police Chief Erick Zinser.

Public safety officials in Novi started carrying the opioid antagonist on July 31 in response to Michigan’s opioid crisis, which claimed 1,001 lives in 2014.

The drug, dispensed via nasal spray, costs about $60 each; every police officer or firefighter who works the street got one, from the initial buy of 50, and all 65 sworn officers were trained how to use it. When dosages are used, they’re replaced with new ones.

Naloxone is a narcotic with no other use than to reverse opioid overdoses.

“It’s a very simple kit to have, and very effective,” Zinser said. “When we use it, unresponsive people usually become responsive within minutes.”

Training arms police with opioid antidote

In 2015, Michigan law changed to allow law enforcement to carry naloxone. In Metro Detroit, at least 75 lives have been saved. Public safety officials in Farmington Hills and Novi have saved at least 17 lives each with the drug. Sheriff’s deputies in Oakland and Macomb counties both carry it, and both have saved at least 20 people.

“It’s inexpensive,” Zinser said. “There’s no reason not to use it.”