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Tacoma Fire handing out Narcan kits to opioid overdose patients

The Tacoma Fire Department is one of the first departments in the state to start giving out rescue kits with Narcan to overdose patients. (Photo: KOMO News)

TACOMA, Wash. - Tacoma first responders are tackling the heroin crisis in a new way.

The Tacoma Fire Department is one of the first departments in the state to start giving out rescue kits with Narcan to overdose patients

When Tacoma first responders answer a life or death overdose call, they carry Narcan—the drug that reverses the effects of the overdose.

Now, they'll start leaving the Narcan with overdose victims and their families in case they overdose again.

First responders are giving out rescue kits to overdose victims, which officials said are aimed at getting people long term help.

They said the best time to use the Narcan nasal spray is while the person is still breathing.

“You’re taking someone who is literally moments away from death,” said Mike Newhouse, Medical Services Officer. “It’s rewarding as a paramedic because you know that that’s a death that’s averted.”

The kits will also have information referring addicts to get recovery help.

Tacoma Fire Chief Jim Duggan said there's a critical short window after an addict overdoses that they're most receptive to treatment.

Duggan said the program is not enabling addicts, rather saving their lives.

“We’re providing not just the medication, not just the referral information, but hope,” said Duggan. “Study, after study, after study, shows that Narcan available in the community does not increase heroin use or more risky behavior. For us we kind of look at it as this is just another thing in the community to handle the risk.”

Since 2013, Pierce County paramedics have seen a 50 percent increase in how much Narcan they're given.

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