WICHITA COUNTY, TX (KAUZ) - In 2017, 67 people have died in Wichita County from opioid overdoses. So what's being done to reduce the number? A drug called Narcan is used to reverse the effects of an overdose.
American Medical Response and Transtar ambulance services have used it for 30 years. Agencies said they are still learning on how to handle the opioid epidemic.
"Each year we average about 65," A.M.R. Operations Manager, Charles Grady said. "It did increase a little bit last year to 75."
That's how many times AMR EMT's used Narcan to treat opioid overdoses in Wichita County. Grady said it's becoming more common to see law enforcement agencies carrying the drug, including some in Oklahoma.
"They've actually had training because there's grant money that's available for it to get it out there into the hands of a lot of the law enforcement officers," Grady said. "They are, a lot of times, the first one's on the scene."
It's becoming more commonly used nationwide, but not in Wichita County. AMR and Transtar ambulance services are the only one's in Wichita County to use Narcan, despite the 67 opioid overdose deaths in the county so far this year.
The Wichita Falls PD and Wichita County Sheriff's Office said they do not carry it or plan on carrying it because AMR is typically on scene by the time they arrive
The Wichita Falls Fire Department Medical Director does not allow them as Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians to administer it. They also said they do not carry it because of how quickly AMR responds to the scene.
Texas State Troopers have basic first aid kits, but rely on the combat triage they are taught before becoming troopers until an ambulance can arrive.
DPS has no plans to administer Narcan in the future, but said they are open minded and could consider it if it remains a problem. Grady said the sooner it's administered, the better.
"Anytime anyone has it that's good. The sooner you get it on board (the better) because a lot of times where it's needed, the individuals respiratory system has already shut down," Grady said. "It will really reverse the affects quickly."
DPS does have a Drug Recognition Expert that will figure out what someone is on if they overdose.
But they said it's hard for state troopers to treat opioid overdoses without a medical background because it's hard to tell what someone overdosed on and how far along they are.
Despite the increase, Grady said AMR has only used the drug 25 times this year in Wichita County, compared to their average of 65 times. For more on the opioid epidemic, click here.