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Loudoun deputies prevent possible heroin overdose

Two sheriff's deputies on Wednesday likely prevented the death of a western Loudoun man by using agency-issued naloxone to revive him from a heroin overdose.

When Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputies Placido Sanchez and Erick Ambroise arrived at the man's home they saw him go in and out of consciousness before becoming unresponsive.

Ambroise, one of 31 deputies who've been trained to use naloxone – known by its name brand Narcan – was able to use the antidote to revive the man.

This was the first time anyone has used Narcan since the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office began issuing the drug to trained deputies in December.

Narcan can reverse the effects of opiates such as heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Loudoun Fire and Rescue took the man from his home to Inova Loudoun's Cornwall Campus in Leesburg, where hospital personnel said the deputies' actions likely saved his life, according to the sheriff's office.

The 31 Loudoun County deputies who are carrying Narcan were part of a pilot program last year that trained law enforcement on how to administer the nasal form of the drug.

The training was conducted by members of Loudoun County Fire and Rescue and overseen by Dr. John Morgan, operational medical director for Loudoun County’s Combined Fire and Rescue System.

“We are proud of these two deputies who utilized their training effectively to potentially help save a life, but this is just one part of our efforts to have an impact on those effected by heroin addiction,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman in a prepared statement. “Our involvement in cases such as this does not end until we follow through on all aspects of the investigation to determine what drugs were involved and who is supplying them. We also understand we cannot arrest our way out of this problem, this is why we have taken a proactive approach with our partners in the community to develop educational and prevention programs.”

The pilot program was initiated in the sheriff's office western Loudoun substation where response times for help can sometimes take longer because of extensive square mileage emergency responders must cover. In some cases, according to the sheriff's office, deputies may be the first to arrive on the scene of a potential overdose.

The program also is part of the Heroin Operations Team (HOT) initiative announced by Chapman and U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock (Va.-10th) in April 2015.

At last month's opening of the Drug Enforcement Administration's traveling exhibit in Leesburg, Comstock and state, federal and local law enforcement said almost every region of the country has seen a spike in heroin overdoses. To combat what's being described as a “scourge” to many communities, law enforcement, teachers and mental health doctors are working to educate residents about the risks of opioid-related drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

“I would like to commend Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputies Placido Sanchez and Erick Ambroise in potentially saving a life of a man who was overdosing on heroin by putting their new training into action and using naloxone. The use of heroin is gripping our community, but through the efforts of Sheriff Mike Chapman’s office and the Heroin Operations Team, we are fighting this scourge on all fronts with law enforcement action and community involvement,” said Comstock in a prepared statement.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are equipping their personnel with naloxone in response to an increase in opiate overdoses nationwide. Fatal overdoses of heroin have nearly tripled nationwide since 2010. In Loudoun County, the number of fatal heroin overdoses increased nearly 400 percent between 2013 and 2014, however, the sheriff's office says collective efforts resulted in a decline of fatal overdoses in 2015.

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