Suffolk County police have a new tool in the war on drugs, thanks to special training and a new medical product that New York state is testing on Long Island.
Over 300 Suffolk officers have been trained to use a nasal spray medication called Narcan under a pilot program for New York's health department. Since Aug. 1, Narcan has been used three times to revive young people dying of drug overdoses.
The drug reverses the effects of opiates like heroin in minutes, and with overdose cases in Suffolk on the rise, arming police with it seemed a common sense move.
"We are typically first on the scene of any emergency," said Dr. Scott Coyne, chief surgeon of Suffolk County Police. "It's during those first few minutes that can make a difference between life and death."
In one overdose incident on Mastic Beach, police officer Michael Alfiere saved an unconscious 27-year-old man.
"He was able to open his eyes, his pulse rose and he actually spoke to me and he thanked me," said Alfiere.
Another lifeless man found outside a Holbrook gas station was also revive, as was a 21-year-old woman who stopped breathing outside a Carvel ice cream shop.
The pilot program will help state officials determine if the Narcan spray should become an everyday weapon in the war against drug overdoses. With three lives saved in three weeks, Suffolk police say it appears the answer is obvious.
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Published at 7:01 PM EDT on Aug 17, 2012