COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A first for our state: Cookeville police officers are now equipped with EpiPens. Not only is the police department the first in the state to carry the pens, they are second in the country to do so.
Along with automatic external defibrillators and naloxone, all Cookeville police officers now have an epinephrine pen in their cars.
“EpiPens serve the purpose of treating folks who are suffering anaphylactic shock, and there are a variety of things that can cause that, including bee stings, food allergies, things of that nature,” Major Carl Sells told News 2.
A bill went into effect last year allowing police to carry the pens to treat an anaphylactic reaction if they complete the training to do so.
“You open the medication up and simply inject it … into that person’s thigh right through their blue jeans; it’s okay. Hold it there for a minute. The drugs deliver, and then you massage it a little bit to help get the drug out into the system. It helps get rid of swelling and particularly in the airway. It also helps a little bit with blood pressure, which can drop during anaphylactic shock. It’s a true, true life saving drug,” said Dr. Sullivan Smith Medical Director of Emergency Services at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.
The department was able to get around 75 pens for less then than $30 a unit, thanks to the Cookeville Regional Medical Charitable Foundation.
“We receive those tools because we live in a community that recognizes the need for them, number one, and our leaders are progressive thinking enough to realize the need exists and to spend the monies necessary to equip us that way,” said Major Sells.
While the officers hope they don’t have to use the pens, they have been trained to do so.
“This is not that common, but when it happens it’s deadly and these guys are on the scene, they got the skills, they got the knowledge and now they got the tools to make it a different situation,” explained Smith.
Dr. Smith issued a challenge to other police departments to help get EpiPens to their communities. He said he would be happy to share the work they did, the policies they created and how it was funded.
The Cookeville Police Department has won a national Heart Safe Community Award twice from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.