The Portage Co. Law Enforcement Center. (Metro Wire photo)

Sheriff’s office installs Narcan education program for inmates

By Brandi Makuski

The Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office has begun training inmates on how to administer Narcan.

The Inmate Narcan Education Program is funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, according to Jail Capt. Ronnie Leach. On Monday, Leach said the benefits of introducing the procedure to inmates far outweigh any downside.

“It has really been beneficial in other communities because when some of these inmates are released, they are still involved in that world, so they’re closer to the overdoses more often than we are,” Leach said on Monday morning.

“Or, it could be a family member who’s experiencing a drug overdose,” said Sheriff Mike Lukas.

Narcan is a prescription nasal spray that essentially reverses an overdose of heroin and other opioids. It’s been used by local law enforcement and medic units since 2014 when former Governor Scott Walker made an appearance at the Stevens Point Police Department to sign into law a package of bills designed to combat heroin abuse.

Under Walker’s H.O.P.E. (Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education) legislation, all EMT departments were required to carry the drug naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. Law enforcement officers began carrying doses in their squad vehicles a short time later.

Lukas on Monday said Portage Co. was one of 12 jails across the state that participated in a pilot program on Narcan training for inmates. The program has now been introduced across the state, he said.

“The purpose of the confidential program is to reduce overdose deaths among individuals being released from custody by providing education on overdose identification as well as training on the use of Narcan,” Lukas said.

Inmates who express interest in participating can receive training, and upon their release from jail, receive a Narcan kit as well as be provided information on how to obtain additional Narcan, as well as counseling and recovery services in the area.

The program is supported in part by the Badger State Sheriff’s Association, of which Lukas is a member. The Association assists in developing the program, as well as staff training, providing posters and flyers promoting the program, jail reporting requirements, and other aspects of the program.

The Dept. of Health Services provides a training video, up-to-date Narcan materials, Narcan kits, and grants for additional program materials and training, Lukas said.