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The Marco Island Police Department has announced its officers will now carry the life-saving drug Narcan.

In a press release distributed Thursday morning, the department announced it had partnered with Families of Grace, a nonprofit focused on education about the opioid crisis, Collier County EMS and the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department, to carry and administer the drug.

Narcan, otherwise known as Naloxone, is used to counter the effects of opioid overdoses.

More: Report: Fentanyl outpaces other opioids in overdose deaths throughout Southwest

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed more than 702,000 people died from drug overdoses between 1999 and 2017.

Opioids have become one of main drivers of death. Of the more than 70,000 drug overdoses in 2017, 68% were opioid-related.

In Florida, drug-related deaths decreased by 3% last year, according to the Medical Examiners Commission's annual report. Opioids were either identified as the cause or present in 11,193 deaths in 2018.

More: More than two dozen Florida hospitals sue opioid makers, distributors and retailers

While Marco Island has not seen a spike in opioid overdoses like other municipalities, Capt. Dave Baer called the drug essential for law enforcement given that officers are often times the first to respond to the scene.

"While Collier County EMS and Marco Fire Rescue are highly trained professional organizations with exceptional response time, law enforcement officers are often the first on unsecured scenes involving drug overdoses, therefore the quick deployment of Narcan is essential," he said.

"In addition to citizens who are experiencing a drug overdose, Narcan has also been used to save the lives of police officers in other jurisdictions who become inadvertent overdose victims or are unknowingly exposed to opioids through contact with drugs in law enforcement situations."

More: Collier Sheriff's office credits Narcan-carrying deputies as lifesavers

Baer said the police department received training from Collier EMS this month to administer the drug, which he estimated was carried by approximately 14% of police departments nationally.

He also credited Denise Holmes, president of Families of Grace, for donating more than 20 doses of Narcan to the police department.

Paramedics have used Narcan for more than 40 years, and it cannot be abused or cause overdoses. If it is administered to someone not overdosing on opioids, it has no adverse effects, according to DCF’s Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. 

Opioids include opium, morphine, codeine, heroin hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone, according to the office.  

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