11 lives saved so far in 2016 by St. Joseph Co. police

Saving lives has become a common occurrence for officers on the St. Joseph County Police Department.

In April, all officers started carrying the so-called overdose antidote called Narcan. Officers have since administered the drug to 12 overdose victims, saving the lives of 11.

“So for me, it gives me goosebumps to know we saved 11 people. That if they wouldn’t have administered that, there would be 12 funerals,” said Brandy Baker, President and Co-founder of DOPE (Drug Overdose Prevention Education).

“Well, it’s part of our job to help people and I think it’s a great thing we have those kits helping us to save a life,” said Cpl. Mario Cavurro with the St. Joseph County P.D.

Last year, the drug overdose was the leading cause of accidental death in St. Joseph County, claiming 56 lives.

Last year, county police officers did not have Narcan available to them.

“St. Joe County actually got it through a grant through Overdose Lifeline, they came in and trained them so it was at no cost to them,” said Baker. “We really need to concentrate on keeping people alive right now.”

Officers on the South Bend Police Department started carrying the overdose antidote in August of 2015. Officials estimate “about 20” lives were saved in the first five months.

The South Bend Fire Department has used Narcan for decades. So far this year, its medics have used 29 doses on suspected overdose patients—saving the lives of 28 people.

“It’s important because their life matters. They have a disease you know, if somebody had heart disease or lung disease you would do everything you could to help them. You wouldn't just write them off and say they're not worthy, because they are, they're, they still matter,” said Baker.
Despite all the saved lives, fatal overdose deaths continue to be a problem in St. Joseph County in 2016.

So far this year, 27 overdose deaths have been recorded, putting the county on pace to reach or exceed last year’s total of 56.
In South Bend, the police and fire departments pay for their own Narcan. In St. Joseph County the cost is covered by a grant.