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As the heroin epidemic grows in cities across the country, the New York Police Department has received the funding to have officers carry naloxone, a drug that can save a person from a heroin overdose.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Tuesday that the NYPD will be given $1.1 million to equip and train officers to use the drug, reports CNN. There will be 20,000 officers carrying the drug, thanks to the funding through the Community Overdose Prevention Program.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the program comes after the Quincy, Massachusetts police department successfully used naloxone to save lives. It was the first department to carry the drug in 2010 and they have saved 211 of the 221 people who had a heroin or opioids overdose. Now, the drug is being embraced by the largest police force in the U.S.
“By providing NYPD police officers with naloxone, we are making this stunningly effective overdose antidote available in every corner of the five boroughs,” Schneiderman told the media. “This program will literally save lives.”
Schneiderman also said that in Suffolk County on Long Island, the drug helped save the lives of almost 600 people in the past year alone. During a pilot program in Staten Island, 42 lives were saved in a month.
The drug is used similar to an EpiPen, which is used for allergic reactions. Each officer will carry a kit that includes two pre-filled syringes with naloxone and two atomizers for nasal administration.
Today’s announcement does reflect the growing trend of heroin overdoses in the U.S. As the CS Monitor notes, officials say there has been an 84 percent increase in heroin overdoses from 2010 to 2012 after several years of declining numbers.