December 6, 2021

Dryden trains to save lives

Cortland man teaches cops to use naloxone after opioid overdoses

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Dean O’Gorman, of Cortland, shows the new easy-to-administer naloxone nasal kit on Friday at the Cortland Standard with the older, less potent, kits shown in background.

DRYDEN — Dryden police officers will train later this month, not to use stun guns,pepper spray or even handguns, but to use naloxone.

“It gives us the training and tools to act,” Dryden Police Lt. Chauncey Bennett said.

Bennett was contacted by Dean O’Gorman, a Cortland man who offered to train Dryden’s officers. He said the training, scheduled for Feb. 28, will consist of officers learning how to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, looking for signs of an overdose; and safety factors.

O’Gorman is a peer educator with ACR Health through the state Department of Health’s regional Opioid Overdose Prevention Training Program. And he understands what naloxone can do — he lost his son Spencer O’Gorman to a drug overdose in April 2017.

The full training will take around 30 minutes, O’Gorman said. Officers will learn to administer naloxone three ways, through the use of older kits, the nasal administration and needle injection.

“We train in all three types so whatever kit they’re given they know how to use it,” O’Gorman said.

The kits and training can be used anywhere. While in Canastota in June, O’Gorman came across a woman who was having an overdose. It took five doses of naloxone, but the woman was brought back. “It was an eye opener,” he said.

Administering naloxone will not hurt somebody, O’Gorman said. It will just leaves patients with a runny nose and a bad taste in their mouths.

Bennett said all members of the department will be trained in administering the drug — five full-time members and seven part-timers. This way all can administer the drug if needed. “No matter who’s on duty,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the focus on the training is due to the reflection of what is being seen in other communities.

O’Gorman said the numbers show that the more naloxone that’s out there, the number of deaths decrease. “It’s preventing people from being lost,” he said.

In Cortland County, police administered naloxone 13 times in 2015, 16 times in 2016 and four times in the first nine months of 2017. Tompkins County police, despite serving a population nearly twice the size of Cortland’s, have administered it less often: five times in 2015, 11 times in 2016 and 12 times from January to September 2017.

By comparison, emergency medics administered naloxone 120 times in Cortland between 2015 and September 2017; Tompkins medics administered it 237 times.

It’s not only police having the training that would make a difference, O’Gorman said. Any first responder or family member able to administer the drug increases a person’s survival. The only thing hindering people from administering the naloxone is if they don’t have the training.