State Patrol: Trooper’s recent actions likely saved the life of a woman in northwest Wisconsin

Across the state, all 489  Wisconsin State Patrol officers are now trained and equipped to administer the lifesaving opioid antidote Narcan – efforts that likely saved the life of a drug overdose victim during the recent New Year’s holiday.

Around 2 a.m. on Dec. 31, a trooper with the State Patrol’s Spooner Post joined a Sawyer County Sheriff’s deputy and Lac Courte Oreilles police officer for a report of an unresponsive 41-year-old woman who was suspected of overdosing on heroin. The woman’s breathing was shallow and her pulse was weak, but after the trooper administered a dose of Narcan, the victim’s condition quickly improved.

Following further treatment from Sawyer County emergency medical personnel and after regaining consciousness, the woman was able to walk to a stretcher.

Opioids are powerful drugs such as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl. Many of these drugs are used as pain relievers, but they also can be addictive.

Opioid abuse and drug overdoses have a devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities throughout the state. According to the Department of Health Services (DHS), in 2016, 827 people died in Wisconsin of opioid overdose deaths caused by heroin, or prescription drugs, or both. From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths in Wisconsin due to prescription opioids increased 600 percent, from 81 to 568 in 2016.  Heroin overdose deaths increased 12 times, from 28 deaths in 2000 to 371 deaths in 2016.

“Opioid abuse is an increasingly difficult challenge for law enforcement and emergency responders across the state,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent J.D. Lind. “Our primary mission is to save lives, and equipping all our officers with Narcan provides another important tool to help us carry out that mission.”

State Patrol K-9 officers are receiving additional training to assist service animals that may have incidental contact with opioids such as heroin or fentanyl.