The Texas Department of Public Safety began providing NARCAN kits Thursday, along with tactical emergency training, to all state troopers.
NARCAN is a drug that can help reverse the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported over 70,200 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, with the majority of those deaths coming from opioids. Fentanyl, and fentanyl derivatives – which can be up to 100 times stronger than heroin – account for 29 percent of those deaths.
In 2018, state troopers seized nearly 95 pounds of fentanyl, enough for more than 23 million lethal doses.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot said he is committed to fighting the nation's opioid epidemic, and to protecting the men and women of law enforcement.
“These NARCAN kits, along with the tactical training, are lifesaving resources,” Abbot said. “[They] will help our law enforcement officers respond to opioid overdoses and save lives.”
The NARCAN kits, which include 4 ml nasal-spray doses, are intended for troopers to use on overdose patients waiting for medical care. They are also useful in saving the lives of law enforcement officers or first responders accidentally exposed to lethal levels of opioids while on the job.
DPS officials were unable to provide an estimate of the cost of the kits and training.
Palestine Police Chief Andy Harvey told the Herald-Press Friday the decision by DPS to carry the kits showed progressive thinking. He thinks the PPD should also look into supplying its officers with NARCAN kits and training.
“It seems to me it's something our officers should have,” he said. “Opioids are an epidemic. This is something worth looking into.”
City Manager Michael Hornes agreed.
“It's a life-saving tool, and I think it's great the DPS is doing that,” Hornes told the Herald-Press. “If they think it's a good idea, and obviously Chief Harvey does, I think it's worth investigating in the upcoming budget year.”