HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The number of deaths caused by opioids have quadrupled since the turn of the century.
On Thursday, law enforcement officers across South Mississippi got first-hand training to add a new tool to help combat those statistics.
The class, Opioid Overdose & Reversal Training, was put on by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Gulf Coast HIDTA.
The number of overdose deaths are increasing each year, and more than half of them are caused by prescription opioid pain killers.
Hattiesburg businessman James Moore, who lost his son to an overdose, was a guest speaker during the training seminar.
"When my son Jeff died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2014, there were no law enforcement agencies in the State of Mississippi to carry this life saving Narcan antidote," James Moore said.
Moore added that the Seminary Police Department was the first in the state to acquire the antidotes, and other agencies are joining in.
One is the Hattiesburg Police Department, which was funded by a grant for the city.
"We only have 36 doses right now, but as we acquire more they will be given to more officers," Hattiesburg Police Lt. Jon Traxler said. "Starting out we will probably just have them in the supervisor's car, because any time we have a major situation like that the supervisor does respond to the scene as well."
The doses have not been distributed to officers, due to un-refined issues with department policy.
"We are in the process of refining our policy, we hope that the first of February we will start actually using the Narcan," Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree said.
After Thursday's class, the officers will not need any additional training.
"Today's class will be all the training that the officers will need and get," Traxler said.
DuPree said, "Not only are we protecting those that are vulnerable, but we are also protecting our officers as well. They could get into a situation where they walk into a room and there is a very volatile narcotic there and they could be affected and not know they are being affected, and we have the Narcan we can also take care of them as well."
"This is a big day for the State of Mississippi, this is something that will truly make a change in the numbers," Moore said. "It is truly a lifesaving drug with no, no side effects other than a second chance for life."