All 45 cities in Hennepin County are now covered by first responders who are trained and equipped with the drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses, Sheriff Rich Stanek said Thursday.

The strategy, part of the county’s ambitious opioid prevention initiative last month, is part of efforts to curb overdose deaths in the county. A record 162 people died from overdoses last year.

Naloxone has helped reverse 50 overdose incidents last year and in the first two months of 2018, Stanek said during a news conference.

“Every one of these deaths is tragic and every single one of these deaths is preventable,” he added. “It’s critically important that we have the tools we need to provide first aid on scene of an emergency.”

Of the 36 total law enforcement agencies in the county, roughly two dozen are currently equipped with naloxone, communications officer Jon Collins said. Many of the county’s fire departments and EMS services are also trained with the medication.

The Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Maple Grove and Plymouth police departments were given the Lifesaver Award for their use of the medication in the field. Stanek said that many more departments across the metro have reversed overdoses.

The county’s first responders have been trained and equipped with naloxone in response to the recent spike in opioid-related deaths in the past five years.


Trevor Squire is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.