Foothill-De Anza campus police working to prevent drug overdoses

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Campus police at the Foothill-De Anza Community College District are going to carry the drug that can revive people who overdose on heroin. (KGO-TV)

Campus police at the Foothill-De Anza Community College District are going to carry the drug that can revive people who overdose on heroin, which is a first for Santa Clara County.

With heroin use reaching epidemic proportions here and across the country, the police department says they would rather be safe than sorry.

According to the latest figures, the four Bay Area counties with the highest drug overdoses are Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

The most recent numbers from the CDC show that from 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from a drug overdose.

Campus police say if they can prevent any death from happening, then this program would have been worth it.

On Monday, police officers trained at the Foothill De Anza College District. "Always be prepared to ventilate the patients, support the patient, be prepared to give them more Narcan if you need to," Foothill-De Anza College District Police Department Ofc. Jim Thurbur said.

The topic was on opioid overdoses and how it's become an epidemic across America. "We have that problem here in our communities," Foothill-De Anza College District Police Chief Ron Levine said.

And because of that, Levine wants to make sure his officers are prepared to help if they come across someone suffering from an overdose. "A lot of these overdoses are not necessarily street drugs like heroin. Some of these are prescription medications," Levine said.

This week, Foothil-De Anza becomes the first law enforcement agency in Santa Clara County to equip all of its sworn officers with a drug called Naloxone, also known as Narcan. "All the medication does is block the opiates from reaching the brain and suppressing the respiratory system, and other bodily functions," Foothill-De Anza College District Police Deputy Chief Jeff Schlesinger said.

Whether it be on or off campus, the goal is to save lives whenever possible.

Thurbur who conducted Monday's training previously served as a parademic before entering law enforcement. "There's a population that's at risk, an elderly population. Sometimes when they're talking their medications, especially if they have a lot, it can be very easy to mistake a pill that they're only supposed to take a once a day for twice a day," Thurber said.

The CDC says 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioid pain reliever and heroin nearly quadrupled.
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