The Quincy Police Department has received additional recognition from the White House, being named in a recent report on how to combat substance abuse.
Namely, the recognition stems off the department’s use of the drug Narcan, which has prevented nearly 100 potentially fatal drug overdoses since it was adopted in 2010.
Received nasally, the device knocks drug users off their high by inhibiting the receptors in the brain that typically receive the drug’s chemicals.
“With the implementation of the Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution program by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, the Commonwealth has become a nationwide leader in overdose education, prevention, and intervention,” said the report, which was released late last month.
The shout-out is only the most recent recognition Quincy has received from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Police Lieutenant Patrick Glynn received the 2012 “Advocate for Action” award from the organization for his work in reducing substance abuse.
Glenn received further recognition in the report, a photo beside a quote summing up Glynn’s mantra in this initiative.
“I believe we have spread the word that no one should fear calling the police for assistance and that the option of life is just a 911 call away,” he said in the report. “We have also reinforced with the community that the monster is not in the cruiser, but indeed the officer represents a chance at life.”
Glynn directs the Narcan program, and saw that all Quincy officers are trained to use the devices.
According to Glynn, the idea came from a local incident, when a young kid was overdosing on drugs and had to wait until the ambulance arrived to administer the Narcan.
"It started getting everyone thinking - why don’t the police carry it? We’re the first on the scene,” Glynn said.
In partnership with the Department of Public Health and Bay State Community Services, Glynn was able to receive the funding to provide Narcan to every officer in the city, and also train them to use the device.
Since October 2010, when the Narcan program was in place, Quincy Police have responded to 164 calls of a drug overdose. Of those, 158 people were able to be saved.
"We’ve had people, as soon as we pull up, they yell, 'It's an overdose, get your Narcan.' We’ve had people drive into the station with people in an overdose state, and they need narcan for a family member. Officers ran from the station, administer narcan, they went to hospital and survived. That’s significant for us," Glynn said.
White House officials said that mind set is exactly what is needed to combat substance abuse moving forward.
“As many communities see increased rates of heroin abuse, younger ages of initiation, and continuing challenges related to opioid pain reliever abuse, it is increasingly important to spread awareness that overdoses can be prevented and that simple-to-use medicines are available to reverse overdoses,” the report states. “Overdose education and naloxone availability are important parts of our efforts to decrease abuse of opiates (pharmaceutical or heroin) and save lives.”
The program has been so successful that Quincy was also named in the preface of the report, written by R. Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the National Drug Control Policy, who said Quincy is pioneering the use of Narcan and that the city should be an example for combating drug use.
Glynn said he gave a report in late April when he went down to D.C. to accept the award, and said word is spreading quickly about the program.
"Many other departments are trying to get on board, nationally, even locally, with Braintree and Weymouth," Glynn said.
In three years, the Narcan has only cost $7,000, Glynn said. For the price of 158 lives, it's a drop in the bucket, Glynn said.
"It would be great if we never had to use it again, but we’re not naïve to think that," Glynn said. "At least we’re ready to assist in the event it does.”
To view the entire report, click here.