BUNBURY police will soon take part in a 12 month trial that will allow the use of a drug that blocks the effects of opioids.
Starting from July 1, 300 officers from both Bunbury and the Perth will be equipped with Naloxone, a drug either injected into the muscle or delivered by an intranasal spray.
The drug works by stopping opioids such as heroin from attaching to opioid receptors in the brain.
The Western Australian Police Force is the first law enforcement agency in Australia and the southern hemisphere to take part in a Naloxone trial.
Minister for Police Paul Papalia said there was always a risk police officers could be exposed to highly illicit toxic opioids in the course of their day-to-day work.
"The safety and welfare of all police officers is of paramount importance, and taking part in this trial is another way in which we can better protect officers in the work they do protecting the community," Mr Papalia said.
"As first responders it may also provide an opportunity for officers to save the life of someone who has overdosed, before medical help arrives."
In 2020 Western Australia had the highest drug related death rate per capita for the third consecutive year.
Officers who have opted in to be involved with the trial have told of countless incidents where their fellow officers have saved the lives of members of the public, and also situations where they have been required to administer Naloxone to fellow officers who have been exposed to opioids during the search for, or processing of illicit drugs.
State Crime Command Assistant Commissioner Brad Royce said the Western Australian Police Force's involvement was a logical decision given the risks officers face and the role officers play in responding to incidents.
"In many cases police officers are the first on scene in response to 'welfare checks' or other tasks that result in a drug-impaired person being located, sometimes unconscious, and will likely be best placed to provide the early medical intervention," Mr Royce said.
"While we hope our officers don't find themselves in a situation where they need to administer Naloxone, it is reasonable to suspect that it is likely that some may find themselves in that exact scenario, so it is important we be ready."
The trial will also include officers from several specialist units who have been selected due to the frequency in which they seize and process large amounts of illicit drugs.
The Western Australian Police Force hopes the outcome of the Naloxone trial will be a greater opportunity to save lives in Western Australia.