SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – On Friday, February 17th, over 145 law enforcement, EMTs and other first responders gathered at Sussex County Community College’s student center theater. They were there to attend a Statewide Drug Recognition Course, a component of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Heroin & Opiates Task Force Initiative designed to assist attendees to recognize and report incidents involving heroin, opiates, narcotics and other emerging drugs. Sergeant Adam Polhemus of the New Jersey State Police, Fusion Liaison & Intelligence Training Unit, Regional Operations Intelligence Center facilitated the course in collaboration with The Center for Prevention and Counseling in Newton. The Sussex County Prosecutors office along with the Narcotics Task Force presented information on the county’s local drug trends and their efforts to address the drug epidemic.
Participants received information about Narcan, its administration and the Overdose Protection Act. Narcan is a prescription opioid antagonist that was developed in the 1960’s and can reverse an overdose. It is administered intranasal and, as of this week, can now be injected intravenously by first responders. According to the most recent statistics provided by the Department of Health, 200 EMS squads statewide have registered with the department to provide Narcan and there have been 389 Narcan administrations statewide since March 2014. Here in Sussex County, there have been 12 Narcan administrations by law enforcement and EMS. Other guidelines to address the statewide epidemic of opiates and the ability to properly report drug related incidents through established channels was also highlighted on Friday. There are, additionally, plans to repeat this training in Sussex County in the near future. Regarding the importance of understanding awareness, education and resources to address the statewide drug epidemic, Sussex County Prosecutor, Francis Koch commented, “The drug epidemic affects us all. There is no one that is immune. We have all been impacted and it is only with collaborative community efforts, like today’s event, where solutions will arise.”
There were participants from all over the state in attendance with about half from Sussex County. The Center for Prevention and Counseling coordinated efforts with the Sussex County Municipal Alliance, the Coalition for Healthy and Safe Communities, The Vernon Coalition to arrange for breakfast and lunch to be provided at this event. Special thanks to Hayek’s Market, Weis, Walgreens, Sussex Tech Bakery, Firehouse Bagel and Coalition volunteers for their generous donations of refreshments. The Frankford Car Wash in Augusta contributed car wash gift certificates to show appreciation for participants who take care of our communities when we need them the most.
The Center created a unique postcard which was shared on Friday and includes local, statewide and national resources for first responders & law enforcement to dispense to individuals, family members and friends when answering calls regarding overdose victims and/or administering Narcan. This card was distributed, free of charge, to Sussex County attendees by The Center and if you are an EMT, law enforcement or first responder organization that would like to receive additional free copies for distribution, please contact Annmarie Shafer at The Center at (973)383-4787.