All Travis County sheriff’s patrol deputies will now carry the life-saving drug naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
The Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative, which works to get the drug into the hands of law enforcement, first responders and addicts, gifted the department with the medication, also known by the brand name Narcan.
Narcan can be injected into the body or breathed through the nose to restore normal breathing amid an opioid overdose.
Mark Kinzly, who founded the initiative, said the drug has saved at least 1,000 people in the state since his and other organizations began handing it out in 2013.
Expanding access to naloxone has been a main goal of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is using federal grant money to target the opioid crisis in the state.
Fatal opioid overdoses increased 7.4 percent in Texas in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Experts attribute much of the rise in opioid deaths nationwide to fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid about 50 times stronger than heroin.
The Travis County sheriff’s office said having its deputies equipped with naloxone will help them to treat people exposed to fentanyl during drug busts, including deputies and K9s.
Law enforcement officials have said they have to be extra cautious when responding to fentanyl drug busts, where even breathing in minuscule amounts of the drug can be harmful.
Last month, a Harris County sheriff’s sergeant was hospitalized after being exposed to the drug found on a laced flyer on her vehicle.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Mark Kinzly, Charles Thibodeaux and Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative for giving us enough Narcan for all patrol deputies. This will potentially save the lives of citizens, deputies or K9s from deadly affects of Fentanyl. pic.twitter.com/x3EReOdVbB— Travis County SO (@TravisCoSheriff) July 12, 2018