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Editorial: Town of Tonawanda makes life-saving decision on Narcan

One down, four to go.

The Town of Tonawanda plans to equip its police officers with naloxone, the antidote to opioid overdoses. It was the right decision and, with it, only four other police departments in Erie County are resisting the need to train their officers to save lives with the easily administered drug.

A story in The News last month reported that five police departments weren’t interested in providing the drug to their officers, citing objections such as its availability through their fire departments and the potential for budgetary strain when a state program expires. With the Town of Tonawanda now seeing the light, that leaves the City of Tonawanda, Lackawanna, Orchard Park and West Seneca still wandering in the dark.

Naloxone — also known by the brand name Narcan — is not a cure-all. It’s an intervention, and a critical one: It separates life from death. As the county — and the country — grapple with an opioid crisis, every life saved is an opportunity for a recovery.

To help with that, a state program provides the drug for free to municipalities. Some departments worry that they will be stuck with a high cost when the program ends. They could, but right now, they can save lives. This is not hard.

Some also say that because fire personnel carry the drug, they don’t need to train their police officers who, some also say — not incorrectly — are already carrying out duties beyond those of traditional policing. But fire personnel aren’t always first on the scene, and seconds can count when someone is overdosing. What is more, police are also first responders, and saving lives is a core duty.

It doesn’t take much to be trained to administer the drug — it’s a nasal spray — and not much to actually do it. The excuses are unfortunate and fall apart with only a little poking.

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