HATTIESBURG, MS. - Mississippi state officials say the opioid epidemic has risen in the last few years. A handful of state and local agencies are responding to the epidemic by adding a nasal spray to their department. The counter-reactant drug can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
The Hattiesburg Fire Department added 40 Narcan's to their department last week. HFD Fire Chief Paul Presley says its another life saving tool. “We just started having it here just a little over a week ago, everyone had to get trained on it first before we actually use it.”
Its all thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Department of Health. Chief Presley says, “The grant was about $10,000 to get it, and they will re-supply us every year once the dosage runs out or if it expires.”
Each fire truck has 4 Narcan bottles and all 113 firefighters are trained to use them properly. HFD Engineer Michael Blair says, "Even if they are not overdosed you can still give this to somebody it has no side effects what so ever."
He adds, "It is not going to hurt you, like if I were able to give it to me right now it is not going to give me any bad side effects or anything.” According to Chief Presley 60% of the department's calls are medical related.
“A lot of times we reach a patient that may be unresponsive due to opioid use and we can have something that can assist with saving their life" Chief Presley says.
Fortunately Chief Presley says the department has not used the spray. HFD hopes other fire departments across the state will follow in their footsteps.