CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--This week, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and 15 other law enforcement agencies across the state received supplies of a lifesaving medicine that could help reduce the number of deaths from opioid overdoses. The supplies were made possible through a $250,000 grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation.
The funding puts 2,400 doses of naloxone nasal spray in the hands of police officers, to be used as needed to combat the effects of opioid overdose. In 2015, more than 1,400 people in Tennessee died as a result of overdose, which causes death primarily by interrupting the signals that control breathing in the body.
Naloxone kits are being administered throughout the state through a partnership with the University of Tennessee Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC), which also trains officers to use naloxone in first-response situations.
“The impact of naloxone is remarkable in an overdose situation,” said Chris Jones, training specialist with LEIC. “Within seconds of administering it, people are breathing again – they are often up and walking around by the time emergency medical professionals arrive. Naloxone helps law enforcement officers save lives.”
The Tennessee Highway Patrol, which received the largest number of naloxone kits, welcomed the resources.
“Our officers are trained and ready to use these kits,” said Col. Tracy Trott at Tennessee Highway Patrol. “These assets will make a significant difference for our first responders across the state.”
The naloxone grant is part of more than $2.9 million that BlueCross has committed to community efforts aimed at combatting the serious issue of opioid abuse in Tennessee. Those efforts have also included a grant to implement the Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition’s successful Count It! Lock It! Drop It! program across the state.
“We are honored to help law enforcement in their mission to serve and protect our communities, and support the fight against opioid abuse in Tennessee,” said Roy Vaughn, chief communications officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and executive director of the BlueCross Health Foundation. “We know these resources are going to save the lives of individuals across our state.”
About University of Tennessee Law Enforcement Innovation Center
The Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC) is an agency of the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service. Formed in 1997, LEIC is a leading training and technical assistance provider for the law enforcement community across the nation. Over the past 15 years, more than 30,000 law enforcement officers, other criminal justice practitioners and public school personnel have completed training and educational programs.
About the Tennessee Highway Patrol
The Highway Patrol is a division of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security whose mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.
About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc.
The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The foundation awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, the foundation is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s mission is to provide peace of mind through better health. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on serving more than 3.4 million members in Tennessee and across the country. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at bcbst.com.