LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — In the fight against the heroin epidemic, there's one drug that has been proven a success over and over again: it's Narcan, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Though our country is facing an opioid epidemic, the drug is not available to first responders across the board.
Ever since Little Rock Police got access to Narcan back in November, they've managed to save 16 lives. Those are 16 people alive today because officers had access to a drug that could save their lives.
But the future isn't certain. If LRPD doesn't come in to more money, or a better way to fund their Narcan program, they may not be able to provide that service when the supplies run out
Often, police are the first on-the-scene. Until November, Little Rock Police may have been first, but they weren't equipped with the life-saving drug, Narcan.
People overdosing on heroin would have to wait for MEMs to administer the drug, sometimes wasting precious minutes they didn't have.
"Even if we can save one person, that's something right there,” said Little Rock Police Officer Steve Moore.
Thanks to public donations, LRPD was able to purchase around 200 Narcan packages for its patrol officers.
"We have administered it 16 times on 16 different individuals. On some of those cases we have used more than one dose, per individual. Depending on how much drug they have in their system, one dose won't help,” he said.
When the Narcan supply runs out, it's out. LRPD has approximately 500 officers. Narcan runs around $100 a pop.
If the whole department were to carry the drug, it would run about $50,000, plus additional Narcan to replace those used and those that expire.
"It wouldn't take long, at the rate that we are going, that an officer would have had it two months ago, but he used both doses. And now he doesn't have anymore,” Moore said.
He said the department doesn't have the capacity to replace the used drugs.
Since the beginning of the year, in the last thirty days, there have been five overdose deaths in the City of Little Rock.
Arkansas State Drug Director, Kirk Lane, said his office is hard at work to find funding for LRPD and other Narcan programs across Central Arkansas.
"There have been many agencies, I'd say probably a dozen, that have found a way to develop a Naloxone Program, before we could get these grants out. They felt the necessity to do it to save people,” Lane said.
He added that his department is hoping to get enough funding that local departments that don’t have to solicit donations any longer.
Officer Moore says business owners and individuals affected by the heroin epidemic have been the main donators. If you are interesting in donating, contact Little Rock Police.