GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A life-saving drug that helps people who have overdosed on opioids is also carried by a few agencies on the Coast.
Harrison and Hancock counties tend to have the highest need for the drug Naloxone. As a result, all AMR ambulances carrying the drug.
"We have a little bit of a big issue of it here in Harrison and Hancock than throughout the other counties that we do service in the state," said Dan Mott, AMR supervisor.
The agency, which services 20 counties in Mississippi, responded to roughly 1,100 emergencies in the past year where the nasal spray version of Naloxone called Narcan was administered. Half of those emergencies were on the Coast.
Thanks to a recent grant, 23 officers with Biloxi police have been trained on the use of Narcan and now carry it.
"We're in the process of trying to acquire more kits and training more officers so we can get these kits in the hands of people first on scene. So hopefully we can save the life of someone who might overdose," said Lt. Chris DeBack with Biloxi Police Department.
According to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, while Naloxone can help someone who overdoses on opioids, its effects are limited and an overdose can still occur. That's why medical care is still needed following its use.
"When it comes to an overdose, time is crucial. So whatever they can do immediately can certainly save a life," DeBack said.
Thanks to the passage of House Bill 996, it's now legal to buy Naloxone at pharmacies over the counter in Mississippi.
"The drug is only good for anything that is opioid based or has opioids in it that could be causing the patient to be unconscious - not being able to control their airway, to suppress their breathing, their respiration, their heart rate. All those things could lead to a dangerous situation. It plays a good role in a lot of the medical complaints that we run on," Mott said.
Some pharmacies on the Coast carry the drug and don't require a prescription. However, some still require a prescription for the nasal version.