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Why Every Officer Must Carry Naloxone

July 28, 2017
By Vel Tye

Why Every Officer Must Carry Naloxone.jpg

What’s in the average officer’s gear pack? That changes every year. What’s in your gear kit greatly depends on where you work, who you’re with, and what kind of threats you’re likely to face. Are you in a patrol car? On foot? These things impact what you carry with you, too.

One thing every officer needs to be carrying in his or her gear kit these days? Naloxone.

What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a medication used to block the effects of opioids. It’s often sold under the brand name “Narcan” and although it is a controlled medication, in some states it can be distributed out by pharmacists to laypersons, law enforcement officers, and the general public. There are several different ways naloxone can be given: intravenous injection, intramuscular injection, and as a nasal spray.

How Does It Work?
Naloxone rapidly attached to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, blocking the effects of an opioid overdose. Because it has no known side effects, naloxone is not harmful if administered to someone without opioids in their system, or even to pregnant women. The effects of the medication last for 30-60 minutes and multiple doses may need to be administered to stave off symptoms of an opioid overdose. These can include slowed breathing, mental depression, and even cardiac arrest.

Why Should Officers Carry Naloxone?
There are a myriad of reasons law enforcement officers should carry naloxone. Heroin and other opiates are a national epidemic, and some counties face hundreds of overdose deaths a year. When used effectively, studies show that the application of naloxone can decrease the number of overdose deaths in a given area. Law enforcement officers carrying naloxone can literally save lives.

Another good reason to carry naloxone in a tactical first aid kit is for the treatment of K-9 drug-sniffing dogs. Trained dogs often inhale the very substances they’re trained to search for, and in some cases, inhaling extreme amounts of opiate powder or painkillers (such as fentanyl) can prove deadly. While drug dogs can receive special prescriptions from veterinarians for naloxone, the FDA says the human form of the drug is safe for use on dogs, too.


As a law enforcement officer, it’s important to remember that your tactical gear isn’t just meant to protect you, it’s meant to help you protect others. From police dogs to the victims of drug overdoses, naloxone has been proven to save lives.

Talk to your commanding officer about whether you should be carrying naloxone and to find out exactly what should be in your medical bag at all times.

Topics: K9, Law Enforcement, Safety