ALBANY, GA (WALB) - South Georgia law enforcement officers trained with a medication that could save lives in overdose cases, and new technology that can better protect them during drug raids.
Naloxone is an auto injector, designed to give a prescription medication that has been effective at reversing opioid drug overdose.
And the Department of Justice said that overdose deaths have become almost epidemic.
"It's a large problem nationwide. The increase in overdose deaths are at alarming rate at this time. And what we are trying to do now is educate officers more on the recognition of these type of overdose deaths, especially involved in opioids," explained DEA Diversion Program Manager David Hargroder.
"Nationwide it is a growing problem. We've seen a trend in opioid overdoses. The Department of Justice is prioritizing treatment, education, prevention and prosecution," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah McEwen.
So on Thursday in Albany, dozens of South Georgia law enforcement officers trained on how to use the auto injectors, and deal with overdose cases.
"What gets me the most is people are dying everyday. And so this course is equipped to better prepare law enforcement and first responders on how to deal with these types of situations," explained Albany Dougherty Drug Unit Commander Major Prurince Dice.
The Naloxone auto injectors talk people through the instructions.
A new development that may be better, is a nasal spray.
The idea is officers can give drug overdose victims the Naloxone while waiting for paramedics.
And there is danger to the officers during drug raids, getting powerful pain killers like Fentanyl on themselves, so the Naloxone could be administered to them.
Another part of the training is a Georgia law that gives limited immunity to a person seeking medical assistance for someone who is overdosing, so someone does not die because friends are afraid to call 911.
"That is law enforcement and the District Attorney's ultimate goal, is to save lives," said Dougherty Assistant District Attorney Norris Lewis.
Doctors can prescribe the Naloxone auto injectors or nasal sprays to family members of addicts so they can have them on hand in case of an overdose.