Officer saves overdose victim

FORTVILLE — The Fortville Police Department is crediting the quick thinking of an officer and access to an overdose-reversing drug with saving the life of a Fortville resident.

Patrol officer Jordan Conley was called to assist the Vernon Township Fire Department after a person was found unresponsive at a home on South Oak Street in Fortville at 7:30 p.m. Monday, police said.

Conley evaluated the patient and observed signs of an overdose, police said. He then retrieved a unit of Narcan from his patrol car and administered the medicine to the patient, reversing the effects of the overdose.

Narcan is a brand name of the prescription drug naloxone. If administered properly and in time, naloxone can reverse the effects of a prescription opioid or heroin overdose.

According to the manufacturer, the drug attaches to the same parts of the brain affected by heroin and other opioids, and it blocks their effects for 30 to 90 minutes, reversing the respiratory depression that would otherwise lead to death from an overdose.

Local law enforcement agencies have had access to the medication for just three months. In May, they used grant money to purchase 60 Narcan prescriptions for officers to carry.

Monday, the drug helped the victim recover enough to speak with medical personnel who were then able to transport the patient to the hospital, police said.

“Officer Conley’s training and quick actions saved the patient and the community from having to deal with another overdose death statistic,” Fortville Lt. Patrick Bratton said in a news release.

The Fortville Police Department and several other law enforcement agencies in Hancock County sought grant money for the prescriptions after seeing an increase in the number of overdoses and drug-related deaths within the county and central Indiana.

The prescriptions were purchased the help of a grant from Overdose Lifeline Inc., an Indiana-based charitable organization focused on combating addiction.

Police Chief Bill Knauer said having access to the medication makes all the difference in how effective officers can be when they reach an overdose victim.

“I think everybody is aware that we have a drug problem — not just Fortville. Everywhere,” he said. “I credit the fact we’ve got that in our cars now to saving this life.”

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.