LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Another reminder Tuesday on how far-reaching and critical the opioid crisis is in Kentuckiana.
More first responders are being trained to react to overdoses including firefighters at Georgetown Township Fire District in Georgetown, Indiana.
The Floyd County Indiana Health Department says last year there were 19 drug-related deaths in the county and since July of this year, officials have already recorded 17 drug-related deaths so far.
"It's not just doctors, hospitals and nurses dealing with it these days, its police, fire its EMS. A lot of the times we're first on the scene and to get that drug into them as soon as possible can save lives," Sgt. Geoffrey McNulty with Georgetown Township Fire District said.
The Georgetown Township Fire District is one of the thousands of Indiana first responders receiving naloxone kits and drug overdose training thanks to Overdose Lifeline Incorporated. The firefighters were trained Tuesday morning.
"It’s so stigmatized right now that when you say drugs, automatically they think of you as a bad person which in fact that's not true," Nate Phillips, Training Instructor with Overdose Lifeline Inc., said.
Overdose Lifeline is a nonprofit that provides resources and training for first responders. It was founded by Nathan Phillips wife Justin after their 20-year-old son Aaron died of a heroin overdose in 2013 in Indianapolis.
He was injured as a star high school football player and became addicted first to painkillers.
"I actually get some sort of benefit mentally myself for doing this. I don't get paid for doing this, I do it because I feel like it's needed," Nate said.
The more than $400,000 grant was awarded in 2016 under former Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
The funds are from a pharmaceutical settlement and more than five thousand naloxone kits have been purchased that have saved hundreds of lives.
"It’s not going away anytime soon unfortunately so anything we can do to help slow it down and help the people that do have these problems is the best for our citizens," Sgt. McNulty said.
This 32-member staff is receiving 8 kits of the nasal spray Narcan.
Indiana ranks 15th in the nation for drug overdose deaths and so many believe that a life saved can be a life restored.
These kits and training are at no cost to Indiana taxpayers.