HUNTERDON COUNTY, N.J. - Saving lives is nothing new for police officers, but soon they may be going about it in a whole new way in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
Officers may start carrying the antidote to heroin.
County Prosecutor Anthony Kerns says the plan is just one way they are fighting a growing heroin problem in Hunterdon County.
Drug counselors see it as a way to save lives.
"The police officers are on the scene first and we recognize that they are going to be in the position to maybe save lives," said Kearns.
Currently only paramedics carry the drug, called Naloxone, or Narcan.
Officers would have a small dose and administer the drug through the nasal passage.
Kerns says this is not a way to enable the drug user to keep using; it's seizing the crucial moments between life and death during an overdose.
"Through this process, allowing the person to live and hopefully get into recovery and begin to take steps that they need to get their life back in order," added Kearns. "If they are dead, they don't have that opportunity."
"I've known people in the past that I know that very well could be here today if something like that was available," said Jeffrey Poch, a case manager at Easton Recovery Center. "Not for everybody to have, but for first responders and police officers."
Drug counselors, like Poch, say they are watching what's happening in New Jersey closely.
"It's amazing that we've come this far to help people who are overdosing on drugs," added Poch. "Ten years ago this would have never been heard of."
The belief is if more police officers are carrying Naloxne, other states may follow their lead.
"I feel good that we're going to try and save lives," said Kearns. "I'd feel better if we could get the heroin off the streets to tell you the truth."
Officials are not sure of the exact date they will start the program in Hunterdon County.
Kearns tells 69 News the majority of the 16 police departments in the county are on board with the program.
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