Fort Lauderdale Police are hoping new Narcan kits can help save lives while combating opioid overdoses and also keeping officers safe.
Dozens of officers were in training Tuesday on how to use the kits after Police Chief Rick Maglione bought 25 of them at $60 each. It's a purchase at a time when the police and fire departments are seeing increasing numbers of opioid overdoses.
"Last year in Broward County we had nearly 600 overdoses county-wide," Maglione said.
"Probably year to date we've administered Narcan over 450 times," Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Chief Daniel Oatmeyer said.
The fire department is teaching officers how to administer the 4 mg of Narcan, a small lifesaver against the potent drug.
"Even just serving a search warrant or opening a package or getting it on your skin, it could be absorbed to the point that the first responder can overdose on it as well," Maglione said.
That's how strong opioids like Fentanyl can be, even with simple absorption through the skin. An East Liverpool, Ohio, officer found that out the hard way when he accidentally overdosed after ingesting opioid through his skin during a traffic stop.
Narcan reverses the slowed respiratory effects of opioids, competing with the same receptors and almost immediately waking a patient.
"We're using a nasal atomizer to deploy each dose," Maglione said. "There's really no consequences, you can't do it wrong and if you give it to someone who may not have been in need, it doesn't have any adverse affects."
Officers are training because nine out of ten times they can respond 2-3 minutes faster than fire rescue, precious moments in lifesaving techniques.
"We can distribute the drug in a quicker manner, it buys extra time until the fire department can arrive and take over the care," Maglione said.
Fort Lauderdale Police are funding their own overdose kits but it's such a big problem that the federal government is giving $54 million to the state of Florida to combat the issue. The city expects to start to apply for those resources to buy more overdose kits.