COVINGTON, LA — Saint Tammany Parish leaders announced on Thursday that the parish will provide 1,980 NARCAN kits to the public, free of charge, for anyone who thinks they might need one.
The drug is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. But the effects of the drugs often last longer than those of NARCAN, so anyone who uses the drug still needs to seek immediate medical attention.
The parish is using money from a federal grant from the Department of Justice to purchase the life-saving drug. St. Tammany has some of the highest drug overdose numbers in the state, so many first responders in the parish already carry NARCAN.
“Now more than ever, this can be a life saver for our citizens,” Parish President Mike Cooper told the crowd during a news conference to announce the program.
Each kit contains two doses of NARCAN. It also includes a QR code that can be scanned using a smart phone to launch instructions on how to administer the drug, and first responders in the parish say it’s very simple to do.
“It’s a nasal spray,” Chief Chris Kaufmann said from the Saint Tammany Fire Protection District Number 1. “It take two to three minutes to get into your system, and the drug puts a block on the heroin.”
All of the fire stations in the parish will provide the NARCAN to anyone who wants it. Both offices of the Florida Parishes Human Services Authority will as well.
Joining the parish leaders for the announcement was Dan Schneider from the Netflix documentary The Pharmacist. Schneider lost his son to drugs and has dedicated his life to saving others.
“The problem has been getting worse,” Schneider told WGNO News. “But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Enough people are dying that people are starting to pay attention.”
Parish leaders say they already received word from someone wishing to get some of the NARCAN before they could finish announcing that it would be made available. They hope that once the supply is distributed that they’ll be able to locate additional money to purchase more.