Seven Mount Pleasant police officers were honored last week for each saving a life using the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone.
The officers – William Brunke, Conor Elliott, Brian Givney, Jonathan Kramel, Andrew Mancusi, Kiana Oliva and Andrew Texeira – were joined on Oct. 5 by state Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro), Police Chief Paul Oliva and other town officials at a special ceremony at Town Hall.
In a little more than a year, the officers were credited with saving the lives of seven people who had overdosed. Every Mount Pleasant police officer is trained in administering Naloxone, which is sometimes referred to as Narcan, one of two brand names associated with the drug, Oliva said. The department-wide training occurred about four years ago, he said.
“The job that the police officers in the Town of Mount Pleasant do on a regular basis is phenomenal and (they) usually don’t get the recognition that they should,” the chief said. “So I appreciate you taking the time to recognize these officers for their lifesaving.”
Harckham, who chairs the Senate’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee, said last year there were more than 93,000 overdoses nationwide, which is about four times the number of gun violence victims. Naloxone has played a significant role in preventing that number from mushrooming even higher, which was highlighted by the Mount Pleasant officers’ actions in reversing what would have been seven additional fatalities in the town alone.
“Seven people are alive today because of the professionalism and the training and the humanity and the quick thinking of the officers here today,” Harckham said. “We want you to know how much we appreciate what you have done and what you do each and every day.”
While most police departments in Westchester and Putnam have trained their officers in using Naloxone, Harckham said that isn’t necessarily the case throughout the state. In his travels across New York in his capacity as chair of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee, the senator said there are police chiefs and communities that shy away from officers’ training either because of the stigma of substance abuse or it is believed it will encourage more people to experiment with substances, including opioids.
Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said whenever the town can provide its officers with additional training, every attempt is made to follow through because it ultimately helps the public.
“I know that Chief Oliva and the Town Board have always been enthusiastic about any type of training that our police officers can do and this is one that’s very important, a lifesaving measure which we all value,” Fulgenzi said.
Oliva said that while there had been a lull locally with having to administer Naloxone, over the past year the number of incidents has been on the upswing. Complicating matters is the inclusion of fentanyl and other components in opioids and other substances that make drugs exponentially more powerful than in the past, he said.
In some cases, officers and other emergency personnel have needed to use more than one shot of Naloxone to revive a person, Oliva said.
Typically, Naloxone training takes a couple of hours to complete, he added.
Two weeks ago, Harckham hosted a Naloxone training session at the Cortlandt Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps/EMS headquarters, providing first responders and any residents interested in training the chance to learn how to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.