PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- A Peoria mom who fought to equip all police officers with Narcan was surprised to hear only a limited number of Phoenix Police are carrying the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.
Michelle Hamby lost her son, Chandler, and her daughter, Breana, to overdoses. They were only in their 20s.
In Breana’s case, police arrived minutes before the fire department, Hamby said.
“Police did get here within two minutes, but they did not have Narcan in 2013,” Hamby said. “If they had had it, would they have been the ones that could have saved her?”
Hamby used her heartbreak to advocate for all police officers to carry Narcan so that overdose patients can get the treatment they need as soon as possible, increasing their chances of survival.
In 2015, Hamby convinced the legislature to pass a law putting Narcan in the hands of officers.
“Governor Ducey wanted all first responders using it and gave a grant to first responders for free Narcan,” Hamby said.
While watching an Arizona’s Family report on which law enforcement agencies have officers carrying Narcan, Hamby says she was “livid.”
That report found Phoenix, Tempe, and Gilbert police departments do not supply officers with Narcan, even though grants through the Arizona Department of Health allow any first responder to have it for free.
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“If they're the first to respond, why would they not be the ones to give Narcan instead of waiting for fire to give Narcan?” Hamby said. “Why are they playing God, leaving it to someone else?”
“We work with fire, fire is very readily available so officers are told to call them,” said Robert Ward with the Phoenix Police Safety Unit. “We’re looking at a possible program to put out, limited basis, to see if it’s needed out there on patrol.”
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Phoenix police say to equip officers with Narcan will take training, protocols and supply. While some groups can provide Narcan kits for free, Phoenix police say they will need hundreds, not just a few dozen.
The Phoenix Police Department has nearly 3,000 sworn officers.
“I think Gov. Ducey will find a way to supply them with what they need,” Hamby said.
She’s been making calls and sending emails to put pressure on law enforcement to carry Narcan, and she plans to go after every agency not supplying the drug to officers. She said Tempe police are next.