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Published on February 1st, 2016 | by Solicitor Dan Johnson



Pictured Richland County Solicitor Dan Johnson

Columbia, S.C. – Recently officers from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia Police Department completed a special training on how to identify adverse reactions to opioids and to administer an overdose reversal medication known as naloxone.

A recent report published by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) noted that nationwide drug overdose deaths are over four times more common than gun homicides, and more than twice as common as deaths attributed to motor vehicle accidents. In Fiscal Year 2014, 516 South Carolinians died from opioid-related incidents; 33 of those deaths were in Richland County.

Last year, Solicitor Dan Johnson took the initiative to combat this devastating issue. While working with Governor Nikki Haley’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Council, the Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office partnered with Rep. Chip Huggins (R-Lexington) and a coalition of state and private entities to draft the South Carolina Overdose Prevention Act (House Bill 3083). The bill passed through both the House and the Senate with no objections and was signed into law by Governor Haley in June 2015. Specifically, the law grants civil and criminal immunity to first responders who, in good faith, engage in the administration of naloxone in a suspected narcotic overdose situation.

The Solicitor’s Office secured a grant from kaléo, Inc., a Virginia-based pharmaceutical company, to supply law enforcement with its state-of-the-art, naloxone auto-injector known as Evzio. Both the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia Police Department are participating in a pilot program for their officers to carry Evzio. “In my previous position as a police chief of a municipal department in Appalachia, I witnessed firsthand the devastation opiate-related overdoses had on communities. Equipping our law enforcement officers with naloxone and training them in its proper use will most certainly save lives throughout the Midlands. When our officers arrive on the scene of an opiate overdose before EMS, they now will have the ability to do something quickly in these situations where every second counts,“ said CPD Chief William Holbrook. “If this program saves one life we would have lost due to drug overdose then it’s successful,” agrees Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

The Solicitor’s Office worked closely on the development of the program with both agencies, as well as the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, the Drug Control and EMS Offices of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Hawthorne Pharmacy, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division and Dr. Steve Shelton of Palmetto Health Richland, to develop the program.

The naloxone pilot program has a three-fold purpose: to train law enforcement officers to identify symptoms of narcotics overdose and to be trained to administer naloxone; to distribute naloxone to the law enforcement officers; and to create a post-administration reporting mechanism so the affected person can be referred to treatment. Through the cooperation of DHEC EMS, the program now has one of the most advanced reporting systems in the United States.

“This has been a collective effort with a positive outcome,” said Solicitor Dan Johnson. “Any time we can bring national resources into our local communities and provide programs helpful to the citizens of this Circuit, then I believe we all benefit.”

For more information please call 803.576.1802.


About the Author

Dan Johnson: Solicitor Fifth Judicial Circuit: 1701 Main Street, Suite 302 • P.O. Box 192 (29202) Columbia, South Carolina 29201: Phone: 803.576.1802 • Fax: 803.748.4936

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