New Bedford first responders to carry Narcan

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — First responders in New Bedford will soon be able to carry a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an overdose.

The city is on a growing list of local communities training police and firefighters to carry the medication in an effort to battle an alarming increase in drug overdoses.

Narcan can reverse the effects of an overdose on heroin or some prescription painkillers, which are the leading cause of overdoses locally. Police in nearby Taunton announced Tuesday the number of heroin overdoses in their city has risen to 140 on the year, with ten resulting in death.

As of last week, Rhode Island has had 85 accidental overdose deaths in 2014, and health officials said at least 46 of those are related to the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

Only R.I. State Police and members of the Charlestown Police Department carry Narcan at this point, but Richmond Police Chief Elwood Johnson said other departments have arranged to have their officers trained.

New Bedford firefighters will begin carrying Narcan next month, while police officers will start on June 1.

A spokesperson for the city said there’s no cost to the city for the Narcan project, as it’s covered by the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health.

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