- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indianapolis police will soon join city medics in carrying a drug designed to help stop heroin overdoses in their tracks.

The move follows a drastic increase in heroin overdoses since 2011. Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said the number of deaths from overdoses has more than doubled over two years. Last year, there were 95 deaths from overdoses.

Medics in the city of about 840,000 people are called to an overdose on average twice a day, public safety records show.

Medics used the drug, which is called Narcon, 628 times last year on overdose victims. Police will start carrying the drug in a pilot program beginning next month.

Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Dennis Wichern said Narcon has been used for years in cities on the East and West coasts.

“It definitely seems to be a new trend to save lives,” Wichern told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

A heroin overdose can slow or stop breathing altogether, sometimes causing death within one to three hours of when the user takes a hit. Narcon can block that effect.

“Sometimes you can see the blue literally just disappear,” said Lt. Scott Campbell with Indianapolis Emergency Medical Service.

Narcon also sends the person into withdrawal, an experience which may discourage them from abusing heroin again, experts say.

“It’s not a pleasant feeling,” Kathie Kane-Willis, the director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University in Chicago, told The Indianapolis Star. “For people who are reversed from an overdose, it can be a life-changing moment.”

Indianapolis emergency crews, police and the Indiana University School of Medicine are leading the pilot program.

“Generally, EMS is on scene first but there’s a significant percentage of time which we are finding that police are on scene first,” Dr. Charles Miramonti, director of the Indianapolis Emergency Medical Service, told WISH-TV. “And so this is a real opportunity to have a profound impact.”

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