Waynesville taking bold step

They say to be a leader, you must walk out in front and take steps nobody has taken before. Sometimes, you make yourself vulnerable to weakness while other times you pave the path.

The Waynesville Police Department is shining a light on what has become an epidemic in our community. The prescription pill problem, commonly referred to as the opioid epidemic, has taken its grips on the wonderful people of Haywood County.

Chief Bill Hollingsed is taking a bold step.

He is spearheading a movement to get drug overdose reversal kits in the hands of nearly every law enforcement officer in Haywood County.

Currently most EMTs in Haywood County are equipped with kits that include the drug Naloxone, which reverses an overdose of opiates. The medicine knocks the opiate off the nerve receptors and is a safe, proven way to reverse an overdose.

The problem stems from the fact that in most cases of a drug overdose, law enforcement officials are the first to respond. While Hollingsed, and most law enforcement officials agree that EMTs do a great job administering the the medicine, sometimes it comes down to timing. A few minutes could be the difference between life and death.

Not only is Hollingsed trying to procure resources through various grants, saving local resources, he’s trying to spearhead getting every agency trained and up to date in using the kits.

According to Robert Childs, executive director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a simple, single session generally lasting less than one hour is all that is necessary for an officer to be trained in recognizing and responding to an opioid overdose. The training is likely to be a joint effort between the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, local law enforcement officials such as Waynesville police, Haywood County Sheriff’s deputies, and your local EMS. Childs said a standard curriculum has been developed to guide these trainings.

Comments have been made by opposition that drug overdose reversal kits give people a reason to not be afraid of overdosing. Truth is, people addicted to drugs are going to do dangerous amounts of drugs regardless of if there’s a safety net or not.

Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed is committed to fighting drug addiction in our community and this is a huge step in helping those who are addicted. You cannot help someone recover if they are dead.