Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jun 2014
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Taylor West


Trained last week, Holly Springs cop saved woman from

In the nine months since her daughter's death, Holly Springs
Lieutenant Tanya Smith has done more than grieve.

Smith was instrumental in the passage of legislation allowing drug
overdose kits to be carried by non-medical personnel.

Last week her department became the first in the state to carry the
naloxone kits and now it has paid off. Sergeant Nathan Ernst used it
Wednesday morning to save a 24-year-old woman who was unconscious and
experiencing seizures from an overdose.

"Six days after we implemented this program our first life is saved,"
Smith said. "That was the personal satisfaction for me, and a
completely selfish satisfaction, when I stood out there and watched
that dad walk away from the ambulance and I knew that his daughter was
coming home tonight."

For Smith the victory was personal as well as professional.

Smith's daughter, Taylor Smith, 20, died of drug-induced asthma in
September 2013. Taylor Smith had reportedly been a heroin addict for
two years and was trying to recover.

"This is what I worked so hard to get this program in place for - that
not one other parent will have to go through what I went through,"
Smith said.

Ernst and the entire department were given the kits and underwent
overdose rescue training just last week.

"Prior to the training we would have just waited for the fire
department and the ambulance to arrive on the scene," Ernst said,
noting previously the most police could do was administer CPR if the
person was not breathing.

Smith said she is glad the naloxone kits are already helping other
parents avoid going through the same thing she did.

"She survived today. There are no words to describe how wonderful that
feels for those parents and I stood out there and hugged that dad and
cried like it was my own daughter all over again," Smith said.

The use of drugs such as naloxone has been a discussion in recent
years following a rise in heroin use, both among families and friends
of opiate users and in politics.

"We were stressing (in pushing legislation) that opiate overdoses are
happening everywhere, in every demographic, in every neighborhood,"
Smith said. "The elderly are overdosing. Children are

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in February the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention statistics show deaths from drug
overdoses in 2010 more than doubled the number in 1999 - largely the
result of opiate abuse.

As of April, 17 states had taken steps to make naloxone available, and
more are giving kits to trained police officers.

The Holly Springs Police Department is the first in the state of
Georgia to have this "wonderful tool" but Public Information Officer
Sherron Conrad doubts it will stop there.

"Given today it's probably going to take hold in the state of
Georgia," she said. "After today I believe it has a very bright future
in this area."

Smith said addicts will still face a long, hard struggle even after
being saved, but now people like the young woman Wednesday and their
families have another chance. The woman and others saved from
overdoses will not be charged with drug-related crimes, according to
police, as a result of the 911 Medical Amnesty Law.

"I think there is super satisfaction that there was something I could
do for someone else that I couldn't do for myself," Smith said. "They
say one life saved equals success and that's what we are all feeling
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