The San Antonio-Bexar County Joint Opioid Task Force wants San Antonio police officers trained on how to administer medication to someone who has overdosed on opioids.
According to San Antonio Metro Health, Bexar County has the highest number of babies born with opioid addiction in the state and ranks third when it comes to opioid-related deaths per capita. After being formed last summer, the task force has received about $11 million in federal grants over the past year.
Metro Health Director Dr. Colleen Bridger said Wednesday that some of the money — about $4.5 million provided through the Texas Targeted Opioid Response grants — will be used to buy naloxone, a nasal spray that can stop the effects of an opioid overdose.
“It does reverse that overdose, returns respiration to normal, and then provides time for EMS to arrive,” she said.
Other money will be used to provide funding for treatment and training programs. Bridger says the goal is to have every San Antonio police officer in the field trained to administer the medicine by the end of December.
The 30-member task force includes representatives from a variety of agencies, including the San Antonio Council on Alcohol & Drug Awareness, and public health experts, pharmaceutical professionals, law and policy makers, and educators.
“We have made the most progress on institutional collaboration,” said T.J. Mayes, chief of staff for Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “We have increased the amount of naloxone, (and) we have educated the community about how to safely dispose of prescriptions drugs.”
Part of the initiative includes commercials played in a Santikos theater. Those ads were seen by about 500,000 people.
“So we spread the word if you have unused medication in your medicine cabinet this is the way to dispose of it properly, which is a primary deterrent to prescription pill misuse,” Mayes said.
Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.