Missouri law has been getting in the way of sheriff’s departments when they respond to drug overdoses. A bill awaiting a decision by Gov. Mike Parson would no longer require them to be under the supervision of a medical director or ambulance service in order to give reversal drugs or devices to people who have overdosed.

Representative Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, is the bill sponsor.

“Many sheriff’s departments do not have a medical director on staff,” said Shields. “And so, the Platte County Sheriff’s Department said to me that many times they would find someone on the street, a Good Samaritan, to administer Naloxone when they were with the person, maybe administering CPR. They said this was really becoming a problem.”

The department asked her to step in and help.

“There’s nothing more helpless feeling than not being able to help someone because they weren’t protected to be able to administer Narcan. They just said they just felt helpless and they’d had every attorney look at it every which way,” said Shields.

Currently, fentanyl testing strips are illegal in Missouri. Shields’ bill would legalize the use of these items to test for the presence of the powerful fentanyl opioid. The proposal would also allow the making, selling, possessing, and delivering of these items.

“We can’t save a life and we can’t help someone get off of an overdose if they don’t live,” she said. “We can’t get them from being addicted to the drug if they don’t live.”

Shields said last year in Buchanan County, the number of opioid overdose deaths increased by 44%.

“And we’re already on track this year for us to even have a higher number than what we had last year. So this, to me, just became a crisis that I really needed to address and I knew that the issue was just not in northwest Missouri but across the state,” she said.

Her bill is included in a public safety package the Missouri Legislature passed this year.

Another item in the plan, sponsored by Representative Justin Hicks, R-Lake St. Louis, would make it tougher to cheat on drug tests by banning the sale and distribution of drug masking items, such as synthetic urine.

Copyright © 2023