Monroe Police plan to buy own Narcan after county pilot program ends

MONROE, Wash. – A pilot program in the North Sound credited with saving hundreds of lives is about to end.

A grant that supplied the overdose-reversing drug to first responders in Snohomish county is ending – spurring local leaders to develop ways to keep the life-saving drugs where it’s needed.

The grant paid for thousands of kits and put them in the hands of law enforcement.

Ever since that, it has saved hundreds of lives from overdose. Now the Monroe Police Department has decided it’s such a good idea, they’ve added the cost in next year’s budget to continue buying their own kits.

“Each officer is given this bag,” said officer Derrick Lether.

Lether manages his police department’s use of Narcan nasal spray. He says just in the past 12 months the drug has saved lives.

“In the last year we’ve had three to four saves, we think is a true asset the department and the community we work in,” he said.

But now that the Snohomish County pilot program that provided Lether and fellow officers county-wide with the overdose-reversing drug is ending.

“If we only deployed one a year, and we save a life, it’s a win in our book,” said Lether. “I mean $2,500 to save a life, it’s pennies. It’s nothing.”

“Since the beginning of the pilot, 259 lives have been saved throughout the county,” said Mary Jane Brell Vujovic with the county’s Human Services division.

To continue that success, county officials plan to fill the gap when the pilot program ends while continuing the policy of keeping the life-saving drugs in the hands of first responders county-wide.

“Jurisdictions themselves may choose to pay for it or they may come to the county for money that the Executive has included it in his budget to continue funding,” Vujovic said.

“I think a little ounce of protection is never a bad thing,” said pharmacist Shawnett Stenberg.

People don’t even need a doctor’s prescription to buy the drug. Pharmacies are now allowed to sell it to just about anyone, including Stenberg’s office Pharm-A-Save in Monroe.

While it’s not free insurance can sometimes help pay for it.

Plus, if you find yourself in a situation where you end up having to use the drug, Narcan alone may not be enough to keep someone experiencing an overdose out of danger.

“Anything can happen,” said Stenberg. “So, it’s always Narcan and (call) 911.”