Citing South Florida’s growing opioid epidemic, the Florida Highway Patrol announced Wednesday that it has issued the life-saving heroin overdose antidote Narcan to troopers in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.
Troopers from Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Broward and Indian River counties began carrying Narcan this week, FHP officials said.
The agency joins other law-enforcement agencies, including the Delray Beach Police Department, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and the Stuart Police Department, in using Narcan to try to prevent opioid deaths.
While the county’s fire rescue agencies each carry Narcan, police officers may often the be the first to arrive at an overdose scene, officials say.
“Obviously, we see that on the highways too,” FHP spokesman Lt. Alvaro Feola said. “We’ve seen cases on I-95 … It’s on the streets, in our cities and it’s on the highways too. That’s one of the reasons the troopers were were issued Narcan, to hopefully save lives.”
The troopers underwent training on how to administer the nasal form of Narcan, Feola said. Through a grant from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Children and Families, the agency purchased 450 kits.
Troopers in other areas of the state will begin carrying Narcan by the end of February, officials said in a statement released Wednesday.
While final numbers aren’t yet available, health officials anticipate that Palm Beach County will see a slight increase in the number of opioid deaths in 2017 compared to 2016. According to the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, 552 people died from drug overdoses in 2016 — a 106 percent increase from 2015, when 268 people overdosed and died.