LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

Training to Reverse Opioid Overdoses

If you asked LSU Health New Orleans’ Dr. William Robinson what he was doing on a recent Wednesday, he’d tell you, “I was training 500 police officers on opioid overdoses, in a church, with a disco ball, that used to be an A & P.”

Robinson, an associate research professor in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health, was approached by the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Traffic Area to teach Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies to recognize the signs of opioid overdoses and to administer naloxone to reverse them.

Robinson conducted morning and afternoon training sessions attended by hundreds of law enforcement officers, primarily from JPSO, but also from state police and other jurisdictions.

Follow Us Subscribe RSS Feed

Media Contact

Leslie Capo

Office: 504-568-4806

Cell: 504-452-9166

Sheriff Newell Normand
Opioid overdose has become such a public health and safety crisis that Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand mandated the training for his officers and chose to hold a press conference at the start of the afternoon training session to announce that deputies will soon be carrying naloxone. He urged his force to not take the information they were about to hear lightly because their lives could depend upon it, too.
Robinson began with an overview of the problem. “Overdose now surpasses car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the US,” he told the officers, “with one opioid overdose death every 17 minutes. Nearly 80 people will die today from a potentially preventable, opioid-related overdose – 9-10 during this training.”
He detailed the types of opioids and explained the how these drugs work. He devoted special attention to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid originally approved for pain relief for cancer patients. Now a raw form is being mass produced in China that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. The influx of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills and toxic fentanyl-related compounds prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue several recent health advisories.
Dr. William Robinson
Robinson showed the officers how naloxone, or Narcan, can reverse an opioid overdose. Narcan acts as an antagonist to block the action of opioids in the body. He stressed that it is very safe – it has no effect if opioids are not present.

He familiarized the group with symptoms of opioid use and overdose and how to distinguish between the two. He then demonstrated how to properly administer Narcan. Robinson cautioned that sometimes more than one dose might be necessary, especially when certain synthetic drugs that can outlast Narcan are on board.

The goal of the training is to arm our first responders (often police are first on the scene) with the knowledge and the know-how to bring an overdosed person back from the brink of death and to keep themselves and their partners safe when these dangerous drugs are present. It’s all about saving lives.

“Officers have to deal with chaotic and extreme situations every day,” says Robinson, “so providing them more information about how to handle those situations can only help.”

opioid overdose training