MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A number of agencies in the state's largest county now have a tool to save a life if someone is experiencing an opiate overdose.
The Steve Rummler Hope Network reports a 50 percent increase in overdoses in Hennepin County since 2015. That's why it has focused on getting Narcan or naloxone into the hands of first responders there. Robbinsdale, Orono and Medina police departments have all been trained, and three other departments will soon join them. And, the mayor of Minneapolis is the first in the state to carry the emergency treatment in his office.
"We have a crisis right now, people are dying," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said.
Days into becoming Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey had his office trained in how to administer a medicine that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.
"We know that the quicker that somebody is able to get treatment and care the more likely they're going to survive," Frey said.
The state's largest police department will begin carrying Narcan once their training is complete – 125 Minneapolis officers will have the emergency treatment when they respond to calls.
"We have to be setting the example. If I'm asking everybody to learn how to administer naloxone, I'd better be able to do it too," Frey said.
The Steve Rummler Hope Network donated the life-saving medicine to Frey's office. The Executive Director hopes other offices in the state will follow his lead. The Foundation's push has been to get the medicine in the hands of people who can save lives.A recent focus has been on Hennepin County.
"Since 2015 we've seen a 50 percent increase so we knew that we needed to focus on them, and the preliminary numbers for 2017 are over 170 deaths in just Hennepin County alone," Lexi Reed Holtom said.
Robbinsdale Police Sgt. Ryan Seibert said there have been instances where officers could have used the medicine but had to wait for an ambulance equipped with naloxone or Narcan to arrive. Now they have it.
"I think it provides a tool in the field because often times police officers and law enforcement are the first to respond on scene to a medical," Seibert said.
Officers carry the Narcan with their defibrillator. It's kept in the squad car.
"This equips them with the knowledge and also the equipment to provide the initial care to increase the chance of getting somebody transported to the hospital and have a successful medical outcome," Seibert said.
A grant allows the Rummler Foundation to provide 8,000 kits to first responders, colleges and hospitals over a 2-year timeframe. So far this budget year, they have donated nearly 4,000.
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