JOLIET – The Will County Sheriff’s Office, like many other police agencies, is spending money to save lives while fighting the county’s opioid epidemic.
Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley and Deputy Jeff Jerz gave the Will County Board Public Health & Safety Committee an update on the sheriff’s office’s opioid-related programs Thursday.
Jerz, the county’s 2016 Deputy of the Year, gave a presentation on Narcan, the opioid antidote that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose if administered in time. Kelley said Jerz has been instrumental in training officers on how to use Narcan, adding that he’ll probably give out 12 to 15 life-saving awards soon because of lives saved in relation to Jerz’s training.
“It’s been pretty successful and he’s what made it successful,” Kelley said of Jerz.
The sheriff’s office started Narcan training a month before a state law was signed in May 2015 that mandated police departments use Narcan.
The first life-saving use of Narcan by the sheriff’s office was in March 2016. The department has saved seven lives with Narcan.
The office has acquired and assigned more than 100 Narcan kits that will cover every level of the office from patrol to administration. The office has trained about 600 personnel on how to use Narcan. Training will continue every two years.
But because Narcan does expire, Jerz approximated the sheriff’s office will spend about $15,000 every 15 to 17 months to keep Narcan doses up to date. Narcan weakens with time, and some who overdose require several doses.
Committee member Beth Rice, D-Bolingbrook, asked if people are tracked after their life is saved to see if they enter treatment. Kelley said hospitals may have that information but the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prevents a complete picture of what happens to those individuals.
When an officer saves a life, some survivors seek treatment, and others go back to using, Jerz said.
The sheriff’s office is looking at other ways to slow or stop the epidemic.
A trailer that was once used to transport sheriff’s office motorcycles is being transformed into an “In Plain Sight” trailer. Donations helped convert it into a bedroom designed to show parents and guardians where kids might hide drugs.
Kelley hopes to have it ready to use sometime in May for different events, in an effort to raise awareness. Grundy County uses a similar concept.
“In the last couple years, we’ve been hitting this epidemic as hard as we possibly can,” Kelley said.
Kelley said over the past couple years two officers have been assigned to a few different drug task forces. Two kilograms of heroin were seized in a traffic stop in Frankfort last week, Kelley said.