The Florida Highway Patrol announced Wednesday it is issuing naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug commonly known by its brand name, Narcan, to state troopers.
The troopers will be the latest law-enforcement officers to start using the drug, which revives overdose victims. The move comes as law-enforcement agencies and other first responders struggle to deal with the state’s opioid epidemic, which is responsible for at least 16 deaths each day in Florida.
The highway patrol “is part of a concerted, collaborative effort to combat the opioid crisis,” Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Terry Rhodes said in a prepared statement.
Rhodes, whose department includes the highway patrol, said it is “critical that our members can safely perform their jobs to help prevent any unnecessary injuries or deaths in our state.”
Troopers in Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Martin and Indian River counties were the first officers to receive supplies of the drug, according to a news release.
“FHP knows firsthand the seriousness of the opioid crisis and the department is taking the necessary steps to adapt our techniques and arm our troopers with the tools that will ensure the safety of the public and FHP,” says Col. Gene Spaulding, director of the highway patrol.
The overdose reversal drug will be used to assist members of the public as well as first responders who may be accidentally exposed to potentially fatal synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanil. Minuscule amounts of such drugs “have been determined to be fatal, and even exposure from minor skin contact” can cause serious medical issues as well as death, according to the release.