LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — More than 1,000 officers in Arkansas now have the ability to save a life in a drug overdose after receiving free naloxone kits.
The Criminal Justice Institute received a $125,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The grant supplies kits to 16 law enforcement offices in Arkansas, 1,300 kits in total.
Nine law enforcement offices are already using naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan. On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
"It's going to make everybody safer. The children of addicts. The addicts themselves. And especially our officers,” Sgt. Zachary White said.
Naloxone helps a person to start breathing again when they overdose on drugs. State Drug Director Kirk Lane said 62 lives have been saved since 2016 because of it.
“We notice police are the first to arrive on scene. Often times within minutes, which is necessary when somebody stops breathing,” Lane said.
The kit comes with two doses of naloxone, nitrile gloves, a CPR face shield and hand sanitizer.
The gloves help prevent strong drugs like Fentanyl from hurting officers. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
"Fentanyl is easily absorbed through the skin. Just a small amount in the air can kill an officer very quickly,” Sgt. White said.
He also said this grant provides Texarkana officers naloxone for the first time.
"It's a huge safety factor for everybody to have these kits. It’s something that is really going to give our community a higher level of service and keep them that much safer,” Sgt. White said.
Arkansas has the second highest opioid prescription rate in the country. There are 114.6 prescriptions per 100 people.
“The national average is 66.5. So, you have a population that is very opioid dependent,” Lane said.
Lane says Naloxone is about second chances and will help save generations to come.
"We're seeing the age range run from 17 to 64. It affects a wide range of people. All the demographics of gender, race. All across the board, we're seeing it,” Lane said.
The 16 departments the Criminal Justice Institute targeted were in populations with a high number of college students. Lane said the kids come first, so giving kits to officers in places like Fayetteville was a priority.
The list of law enforcement offices in Arkansas that received kits on Thursday include:
• Conway Police Department
• North Little Rock Police Department
• Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office
• The University of Arkansas at Little Rock
• Fayetteville Police Department
• Jonesboro Police Department
• Springdale Police Department
• Texarkana Police Department
• Bella Vista Police Department
• Hope Police Department
• Johnson County Sheriff’s Office
• Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office
• Paragould Police Department
• Pope County Sheriff’s Office
• Trumann Police Department
• The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville