LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Overdoses from opiates have become a nationwide epidemic, and the Laurel Police Department received training and a special tool to combat the problem.
Members of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety were on hand to distribute the opiate buster Narcan, which is a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose. Officers also received specialized training on when and how to use the drug to save lives.
According to Captain William Sparrow of the Laurel Police Department, it will help combat the growing opioid epidemic in the community.
"I'm sure every officer we've got has been to a scene and seen an overdose patient but you can't do anything but wait for the ambulance to get there," Sparrow said. "A lot of times police officers get there first and if we can start the treatment protocol, we might save some lives and that's what we want to do."
While Narcan can reverse the effects of an overdose, its effects are limited and an overdose situation can still occur when the medication's effects wear off after approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Even after the Narcan is administered, medical treatment is vital.
Mississippi is one of a handful of states where there are more opioid prescriptions than there are people. According to officials from the Mississippi Department of Metal Health states that in Mississippi there were enough opioids dispensed legally for each person, from infants to elders-2.9 million people, to have 70 pills each.
According to officials, Mississippi saw at least 211 deaths from drug overdoses, the highest in state history.