BRYANT, Ark. — The fire department chief in Bryant knew he wanted his firefighters equipped with the life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone. He didn't know how soon he would need his crews to put them to use.
"In a matter of an hour and a half we successfully used the Narcan dosage in the field twice," said chief J.P. Jordan, referring to the brand name for the nasal spray that saves people overdosing on opioids.
"We just got the kits yesterday," said firefighter Brandon Rollins, who made both runs Wednesday. "We had them a total of maybe five hours."
Proof that a rolling stone will gather no moss and a Narcan kit in Bryant will gather no dust. A special statewide grant put the kits in Rollins' hands as Arkansas officials try to counter the opioid crisis by providing the kits to as many first responders as possible.
"It's something that we've all seen in all of our populations," chief Jordan said. "Big cities, middle-sized cities, small cities. It's truly an epidemic."
But naloxone is turning the tide. It can take someone from the brink of death back to life with just a spray in the nose. And with firehouses typically a part of neighborhoods, a first-responding fire crew is often the fastest to a patient in need.
"I truly believe that giving that patient that dose of Narcan that quick, it's obvious it makes a difference," said Chief Jordan.
The worry now is how quickly firefighters will run through their supply. At $150 per dose, chief Jordan says most fire departments can't afford to keep extra kits lying around.
"We would like to be able to have a stockpile of it but that's pretty expensive so I know we're going to try to maybe explore opportunities, grant opportunities ourselves," he said.
Meanwhile, his troops are glad for the kits they have.
"We catch two in the same day, the day we get the kits and are able to save the people," said Rollins, who recalled it had been about a month since his last call for a drug overdose. "That was the good part about it."