SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved the sheriff's office's move to apply for a donation that would pay for an opioid-reversal agent which could potentially save a deputy's life during high-risk run-ins.
EVZIO is a naloxone HCI auto-injector which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, whether it's a civilian overdosing, or a sheriff's deputies come into contact with a substance.
"It's not as prevalent as we've seen in other states," said Captain Jeremy Black. "We are seeing it here, our officers are coming into contact with a lot more of it, it just hasn't been as prevalent as the northeast, the east, or some other states."
A pharmaceuticals company, Kaleo Inc., offers product donations to qualifying law enforcement departments and school districts, which a supervisor with Smith County Sheriff's Office took notice of, according to Black. He added that the sheriff's office mission was to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the drug's increased use. Black pointed to a 2017 study that showed an increase of 4.7% in opioid-related deaths in Texas, versus "somewhere around 30 or 40% increase" in northeastern states.
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"Once we start seeing things like this, we get together and start thinking how can we get ahead of this," Black said. "A lot of that comes with money and other things that we just don't have a lot of. Companies such as [Kaleo Inc.] that offer donations or grants that we try to take advantage of so we can give our officers and citizens the things that we need, and this is one of them."
Smith County and Rusk County are among the top three areas in the region with the highest percentage of opioid prescriptions filled. Aside from the EVZIO application, which Black said would greatly assist sheriff's deputies when overdoses occurred, he added that the Smith County Sheriff's Office has already taken a pro-active approach to stopping opioid abuse.
Last July, Smith County set out to combat that problem by installing prescription drug drop boxes as a tool for proper opioid disposal. Since then, Black said 2,300 lbs. of unused opioids has been collected.
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"That's getting them out of the hands of kids, that's getting them out of the hands of people who don't need them," said Black. "All of those ways are us taking a pro-active approach to protecting our officers and our citizens."
On Tuesday, the Smith County Sheriff's Office was approved to apply for 105 units of EVZIO. The deputies will then undergo training before any EVZIO units will be assigned, should the sheriff's office application be approved, Black said.
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