Connecticut emergency officials are gaining new access to a tool used to combat heroin overdoses.
The law, which goes into effect Oct. 1, could save lives. It allows police departments to carry a drug that can reverse the effects of heroin.
"We've had heroin overdoses we want to stop the loss of life," said State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance, adding that the best way to protect these lives is by using Narcan. "This is an opiate reversal drug that's been shown to reverse the effects of opium related illegal drugs."
State police are on board with a bill passed by the general assembly that grants immunity to anyone who administers the antidote Naloxone or Narcan. Vance says they're not trying to take the place of EMTs.
"Looking at some of the rural communities it may be extremely advantageous for first responders and law enforcement to have this reversal drug available," Vance added.
The Valley Substance Abuse Action Council, which works on reducing substance abuse and promoting good mental health among young people, says there's "virtually little side effects and within 30-90 minutes the drug would wear out after being given to someone."
According to director Pamela Mautte, "there really isn't a lot of concern."
The concern among law enforcement was injecting others with needles but now there's an approved nasal spray. It's been a concern nationwide and here in Connecticut as in the case of an East Windsor student who died of a heroin overdose.
"There's opiate overdoses that happen every day in the state of Connecticut," said Shawn Lang, director of public policy for AIDS Connecticut.
Lang and other members of the organization believe the more accessibility to Narcan, the better.
"It should also be available for family members because very often they know somebody in their family who has an opiate addiction whether it's heroin or things like oxycodone," Lang added.
State police tell us there's still a lot of training and policy surrounding Narcan before it can be used by law enforcement in the field.