Horry County Police officers to soon carry Narcan

A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is displayed at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City, N.J. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. An overdose of opiates essentially makes the body forget to breathe. Naloxone works by blocking the brain receptors that opiates latch onto and helping the body "remember" to take in air. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Officers with the Horry County Police Department could soon carry Narcan, the medicine distributed during a heroin overdose to save the life of the drug user. A federal  grant from the Department of Health and Environmental Control will fund the Narcan inventory.

Horry County Coroner Robert Edge reported in July 2016 that roughly five people die each week in the county from heroin overdoses. The police department is determined to save the lives of those users and offer help in getting them off drugs.

“It’s no secret that the county as a whole is struggling with a heroin epidemic,” admits Horry County Police Public Information Officer Krystal Dotson. “We want to provide that option to help save a life and then hopefully help steer these individuals into some resources that will continue to get them on the right path to break the addiction, break this cycle.”

Dotson says the goal is for each officer within the department to carry Narcan so they are prepared to fight against the effects of heroin.

When emergency crews respond to an overdose call – police officers, EMS, firefighters – each unit can arrive at a different time, and Dr. Ron Reynolds, who practices in Myrtle Beach, says a few seconds can literally be life-saving for the drug user.

“You want to use it (Narcan) as soon as you can once you recognize an overdose situation,” says Dr.  Renolds.

In a county that answers calls for overdoses on a daily basis, first responders are desperate to find solutions. The answer, in part, could come from DHEC.

Already, 10 states have been awarded the federal grant, through which their respective DHEC state office provides the Narcan, training for the officers, and education and treatment resources to the addict.

Ultimately, Dotson says that grant is funded with taxpayer money, which begs the question: why should taxpayers fund the recovery process of this deadly addiction?

“We understand that argument, and as a citizen, I certainly can understand that as well,” says Dotson. “But as law enforcement standpoint, we want to help, and we want to provide that service to get these individuals the help that they need, and so this is the first step in doing so.”

Dotson says the other ten departments that have been awarded this grant have saved the lives of 19 people overdosing on heroin. She says the Horry County Police Department hopes to have Narcan for every officer by this spring.