PARKE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - The Hoosier State is putting tens of thousands of dollars into fighting the opioid epidemic. Some of that money will go to work right here in the Wabash Valley.
34 counties in Indiana got Narcan kits from the State Health Department. In our area, Parke County is benefitting.
Narcan fits in the palm of your hand, but it packs life-saving power. It’s used by first responders to reverse an opioid overdose.
Rockville Police Chief Randel Kneeland says his officers have been carrying narcan for the last few years.
Kneeland says, "A lot of time officers make the scene before ems personnel can, and it just gives us another step up to help saving lives."
If someone has overdosed and is unresponsive, seconds and minutes matter. In a rural area, the clock is always working against you.
Parke County Sheriff Justin Cole says, "Here, the response times are a little bit longer due to people being so far away from a hospital, you know we don't have our own county hospital, so it is important. Every time we've used it, and it's been heroin-related, there have been saves."
Even though local officials have been carrying narcan for the last few years, they say it's important to seek funding for it each year. That's because it's something that doesn't always make it into the budget.
Cole says, "Being a smaller department money doesn't seem as readily available. So going through these different entities for the grants really helps us."
Kneeland shares, "It allows us access to life-saving materials that we wouldn't have otherwise. Most departments and agencies don't have it in their budget for antidotes for officers to carry."
Kneeland says some people feel that narcan enables opiate abusers to continue to use. But, he urges folks to give up that opinion.
Kneeland says, "I can understand that argument however that's not our choice or decision to make. We're in the business of saving lives and protecting people, and sometimes we have to protect them from themselves."
The Rockville Police Department, Parke County EMS, and the Marshall Volunteer Fire Department are getting narcan from the state.
The Parke County Sheriff's Office also received a separate grant for narcan.
If you struggle with an opiate addiction, help is available. You can call the national opiate hotline at 1-888-784-6641.