Culpeper is full of guardian angels.
On Wednesday, 20 of those – members of the Culpeper Town Police Department – were honored for saving lives in 2017.
Of the 20 cases of life saving efforts by the town police in 2017, 19 of them were related to opioid overdoses.
It was a statistic that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring was well-aware of and one that he started to address during his first visit to Culpeper shortly after his election in 2014. His roundtable discussion with officers from the town police, Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins and neighboring sheriff’s highlighted the epidemic the region was facing and helped focus his efforts on getting help for law enforcement who were battling the crisis on the front lines.
One of those tools was the effort to equip officers with naloxone, which played a pivotal role in all of the overdose cases that resulted in life saving efforts.
“It’s your quick responses that saved a life and gave someone in your community a second chance,” Herring said. “To me, it’s incredibly striking that 95 percent of those of you receiving life saving awards tonight, saved a life by administering naloxone to someone in the throes of a heroin or prescription drug overdose.”
Herring said that statistics for 2017 aren’t available yet, but in 2016 1,100 Virginians lost their lives to an opiod overdose.
“The numbers are so large, they don’t even seem real,” Herring said. “I know the faces of this crisis, I know the lives behind these numbers. That’s a thousand families with an empty bedroom upstairs. That’s a thousand families with an empty seat at the dinner table and too many children who are going to grow up without a mother or dad.”
Herring said he’s gotten to know the recovery community and has talked to teenagers who said their best friend has died and they don’t want to follow down the same path. He said that Culpeper was one of the first communities to truly understand the epidemic the commonwealth is facing and helped him shape legislation to stop the influx of heroin into the region.
“My team and I have increased prosecutions about dealers and traffickers to record levels,” Herring said. “We’ve worked more than 110 cases against them involving more than 665 pounds of heroin.”
He admitted this is a problem they aren’t going to arrest their way out of, pointing out that education, prevention and treatment are equally important. Culpeper’s formation of coalitions – such as Living The Dream Foundation, Come As You Are, Team Jordan, The Rusty Bowers Suicide Prevention Coalition and many others – have helped raise awareness of the situation.
Prior to Herring’s speech, Culpeper Police Department Major Chris Settle thanked Novant Health UVA Health Systems Culpeper Medical Center for provided naloxone free of charge. Herring said the expansion of naloxone access and the willingness of men and women like those in the Culpeper Police Department has directly led to the reduction of loss of life.
“What we really have is a substance abuse crisis, but it’s most acute symptom is an overdose,” Herring said. “In that moment, naloxone can be the difference between life and death, between a second chance and an end of a life. We know it’s not the answer to this crisis, but it’s another tool at our disposal. It is made even more effective by having highly skilled officers like you, administer it in your community.”
Culpeper Town Police Chief Chris Jenkins praised the work the community has done to come together to address the issue.
“This crisis will take our entire community and everyone working together where everyone needs to become involved,” Jenkins said. “I can’t say enough about the good work of the coalition groups.
“I’m happy to report, as a community, I believe we’re making progress,” Jenkins said.
Part of that progress comes in saving lives, such as the 18 cases referred to on Wednesday.
“I know no greater gift than one can give, but these officers would humbly say they are just doing their job,” Jenkins said. “I’ve watched the videos from the body cameras and I’ve watched them perform calmly and professionally without hesitation.”
The list of officers who saved lives are:
Officer Alfred Cooper
Officer Kaitlin Keat
Officer Christopher DeJarnette
Officer Megan Lombard
Deputy Christopher Garcia
Officer Matthew Haymaker
Officer Daniel McNeill
Master Police Officer John Bahl
Officer Julia Cole
Officer Matthew Satterfield
Master Police Officer Michael Eric Grant
Detective Austin McNabb
Sergeant Wayne Hickman
Captain Timothy Chilton
Deputy Daniel Adair
Officer John Slaughter
Master Police Officer Michael Eugene Grant
Officer Anthony Caruso
Officer Nolany Overby
Officer John Minor
Following is a list of some of the instances when officers saved lives. (Editor’s note: Due to the amount of life saving efforts, each separate incident will not be printed. Some officers participated in multiple live saving efforts, including Kaitlyn Keat and Christopher DeJarnette who were honored four separate times for their efforts. We will try to display as many instances as possible with as many officers as possible. Names of the victims will not be released.)
Jan. 1, 2017
Officer Al Cooper and Officer Kaitlyn Keat
Officers Keat and Cooper responded to Belle Court for a CPR in progress call. They were met by a juvenile who took them into a bedroom where they located an unresponsive male. Officer Keat began assessment of the victim and determined that he was in an overdose situation. She began trying to revive the individual while Cooper administered two doses of Narcan and used a breathing bag to aid in expediting the narcan dose into the respiratory system. After the male became responsive it was determined that this was an accidental overdose. The male was a cancer patient in remission but still used opioids to manage pain. The training of the officers saved this individual while using prescribed medications.
Jan. 23, 2017
Officer Christopher DeJarnette, Officer Megan Lombard and Deputy Christopher Garcia
Officers DeJarnette, Lombard and Garcia responded to a call of an unconscious Hispanic male in the 200 block of Chestnut Drive. After assessing the maile, it was determined that he was in an overdose situation. The victim was given two doses of Narcan and vital signs were relayed to incoming emergency personnel. Once on scene the emergency personnel took over the victim and transported him to the hospital where he regained consciousness.
Feb. 14, 2017
Master Police Officer John Bahl and Officer Julia Cole
Officers Bahl and Cole responded to Standpipe Road for an overdose. Upon arrival they were met by a distraught female and two children. The female took the officers to her boyfriend who was unresponsive on the bedroom floor. The officers assessed the situation and determined it was a drug overdose. After a dose of Narcan, the victim was moved to the bed from the floor and administered another dose of Narcan. The scene was further complicated by the children’s confusion, and both officers showed extreme compassion toward the children while handling their duties. A difficult situation for the children was made bearable by the professionalism of both officers
March 5, 2017
Officer Matthew Haymaker and Officer Julia Cole
Haymaker and Cole responded to a reported overdose in the 700 block of Virginia Ave. They located a male unresponsive on the bedroom floor and used two Narcan auto injectors to revive him. The individual relayed he had been in jail and hidden the heroin prior to being incarcerated. After his release, he located the heroin and used it causing the almost fatal incident.
March 21, 2017
Officer Kaitlin Keat, Officer John Slaughter and Officer John Minor
The officers responded to a call of a reported overdose and found an unresponsive male packed in ice on the floor of a bedroom. According to Settle, this is a common practice found in the last few years and is believed by users to shock the overdosing person back into breathing. That is not the case, as it only hinders rescue efforts. Keat attempted to give the first dose of Narcan but was defeated by the ice packed into the pants of the victim. A second dose was given and the victim was hooked up to an oxygen tank and the officers saved the individual’s life.
April 12, 2017
Master Police Officer Eric Grant, Officer Lombard and Detective Austin McNabb
The officers responded to the call of an unconscious person and encountered a frantic male that was hard to obtain information from. Eventually they located a female victim but as they were working on that patient, the male was observed passing out as well. Officer McNabb grabbed him and helped emergency personnel administer Narcan to him as well. Sadly, only the male survived from the incident.
June 10, 2017
Sgt. Wayne Hickman and Officer Daniel McNeil
Sgt. Hickman and Officer McNeil responded to a suspicious persons call to find a man lying in the middle of the street. It was determined he was in an overdose situation and Hickman gave two doses of Narcan. Following a third dose administered by McNeil, the victim was revived became agitated and somewhat combative. McNeil had to ride and help restrain the male in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
June 17, 2017
Captain Tim Chilton and Officer Matthew Satterfield
Chilton and Satterfield responded to the parking lot of McDonald’s for a reported unconscious male. He was found in the backseat of a vehicle and determined to be in an overdose situation. Following two doses of Narcan, he was revived. Locally, Settle said, CPD has noticed a trend of heroin and opioid use in public places in the belief that the possible overdose will be found more quickly in a public setting.
July 24, 2017
Officer Daniel Adair
Adair responded to a call of a reported overdose in the 1000 block of Riverdale Circle. He met the wife of the unresponsive male and was taken to the basement. He administered CPR and a dose of Narcan until emergency personnel arrived and took over the scene.
July 29, 2017
Officer Keat and Officer Slaughter
The officers responded to a call at a local motel for a welfare check. A concerned family member said they had received suicidal text messages from a male in the room. The officers made contact with the male and discovered him covered in blood with large cuts on his wrists. The officers were trained and equipped with tourniquets and were able to stop the bleeding and keep the male calm and conscious.
Sept. 6, 2017
Officer Lombard, Master Police Officer Michael Eugene Grant, Officer Anthony Caruso
The officers responded to a local motel for a reported overdose and found a male victim on the hotel floor and began CPR. They administered Narcan and following two doses the male became responsive and was breathing on his own. Officers found out through other occupants of the room that the male had just gotten out of jail that day and immediately turned back to heroin.
Sept. 27, 2017
Officer Nolan Overby
Overby responded to a reported CPR in progress at a local motel. He found an unresponsive male with a large cut over his right eye. It was determined the male was in an overdose situation and fell into the bathtub, cutting his head. While treating the victim, a witness told Overby a female who had originally called ran out of the room carrying syringes prior to the officer’s arrival. Settle said he wants to remind the public of the “good samaritan” law that protects those that choose to make the efforts to help those in overdose situations.