Breaking News
More () »

Narcan vending machine coincides with decreased crime and overdose calls in Vine Grove

Two months after Vine Grove Police Chief Kenneth Mattingly installed a free Narcan vending machine, he explains what changed.

VINE GROVE, Ky. — In Hardin County, EMS responds to more overdose calls than there are days in a year.

That's 463 calls so far this year, according to Vine Grove Police Chief Kenneth Mattingly. 

For him, the overdose issue is personal. He told WHAS11 News his daughter is recovering from addiction and Narcan saved her life on multiple occasions. 

He knew he wanted to make the life-saving drug accessible, and once he decided on a vending machine, he needed a location.

The police station was a perfect fit.

"This is a city-owned building," Mattingly said, standing in front of the station. "So, I had to get approval from my mayor."

"There was just no way you could say no," Vine Grove Mayor Pam Ogden told WHAS11 News. "It was a definite plus that we would be able to save lives." 

The Machine opened two months ago.

Still, there has been pushback. 

Dozens of people posted Facebook comments and sent emails saying the vending machine would reward bad behavior, bring the wrong crowd to Vine Grove, and increase crime.

Ogden said, "A lot of people come at me, and come at my chief, and come at our city -- that we are trying to save people who don't deserve to be saved."

 All of those comments were online, Ogden noted, but no one has come to a city meeting and officially voiced their concern.

To put the issue into perspective, we talked with Vine Grove Fire Chief Matthew Haddle. He leads a volunteer department and has firsthand experience treating overdoses and hearing from families while the unthinkable is happening. 

He put it simply, "If I can save one life that vending machine is worth a million dollars." 

The machine is free. Its contents and cost were donated by a local mental health center. Haddle stressed saving a life is invaluable, especially when that person is an unknowing victim, like a recent child overdose he responded to. 

"When we get the call it might be five, six, seven minutes. But, if they have the Narcan there and they can admit it, they cut down the five [or] six minutes and they give that person a better opportunity to survive."

It's not just people with addiction picking up Narcan, Chief Mattingly makes a point of talking to people who use the machine if they're comfortable. He said a lot of worried parents, grandparents, and friends just want to be prepared. 

As of Monday, the department gave out 214 boxes. Each box has two doses of Narcan. 

He said the crime rate has decreased.

"Our crime numbers have gone down," Chief Mattingly said. "Now I can't contribute it to this but I can tell you our calls to service have gone down since before this machine was in there."

A trend they hope continues in the pursuit of saving lives. 

► Contact reporter Tom Lally at TLally@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

Before You Leave, Check This Out