Hundreds of Dundee police officers will soon receive training in how to use a nasal spray to help overdosing drug users.
A total of 270 police constables, sergeants and inspectors in the city will be trained in how to use naloxone to reverse the effects of an overdose and potentially save lives.
Drugs workers in the city have welcomed the move, saying wider use of the naloxone could be a “game changer” in tackling the city’s rising tide of drug deaths.
Officers in Dundee will shortly join colleagues in Glasgow and Falkirk who started learning the new skills this month as part of a pilot project.
Two officers in Glasgow used the training to stabilise a man earlier this week only hours after learning how to use the skills.
Dave Barrie, service manager at addiction support charity We Are With You, said: “Fundamentally, it is everyone’s responsibility to save lives and I encourage anyone who gets the opportunity to do this training to take it.
“It has been around for years now and the evidence is so strong that it is a game changer in intervening in overdoses.”
He said previous versions of the drug were given via an injection into the muscle but a nasal spray made the intervention easier to administer.
The pilot project has attracted controversy after criticism from frontline officers’ body the Scottish Police Federation.
The training is mandatory but officers will be given the choice whether or not to carry the drug once they have completed it.
Dr Robert Peat, chairman of the Dundee Drugs Commission, the pilot programme was a “really positive development.”
He said: “It will help to reduce drug related deaths.
“It is part of the National Taskforce strategy and is very much supported by the Dundee Drugs Commission.
“We would support the wide availability of naloxone and encourage the uptake of training in it use.”
‘90% of overdoses are preventable’ with naloxone
Ingrid Hainey, area manager at Hillcrest Futures drug and alcohol service, said the group was “really pleased” to hear of the programme starting in the city soon.
She said: “This is a fantastic step forward in the prevention of drug-related deaths as police officers are well-placed to respond quickly to reports of overdose.
“90% of overdoses are preventable with naloxone. So we would encourage anyone, professionals and members of the community, to be trained in its use.”
Leading officers approved the pilot last year as part of the national public health approach to tackling the impact of drugs.
Drug deaths in the city rose from 66 in 2018 to 72 in 2019 in what is the sixth consecutive yearly rise, according to annual Scottish Government figures.