HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Police Department gathered in the Horry Georgetown Technical College auditorium on Thursday to receive training on Narcan administration.
There were two training sessions held and hosted by Sgt. Jeff Ward with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office.
This is the first time Horry County law enforcement will be equipped with the life-saving drug. Each officer walked away from the training with two doses of Narcan that they are encouraged to use at their own discretion.
In 2015, Horry County and Greenville County were tied for the highest number of opioid-related deaths in the state at 74. There were 594 deaths statewide that same year.
HCPD Lt. Mark Bonner said those numbers are why it is so important local officers have Narcan on hand.
"It's a nationwide problem. The drugs are out there; we know that they're out there. We just want to try to combat some of these deaths so this is a tool to help us try and combat that," he said.
Another reason it is so important to have law enforcement officers equipped with Narcan is because they are usually the first to arrive on scene, before EMS.
Officers are equipped with two doses in case one isn't enough because the drug is too potent. Another reason is because two doses can be stretched out over a longer period of time if that is needed before EMS can get to the scene.
However, residents aren't the only people officers are hoping to help.
While responding to calls where drugs can be found at the scene of a crime, it's possible for law enforcement officers or canines to accidentally inhale the deadly powder fentanyl.
"In the case of law enforcement Narcan administration, we are generally on the scene much quicker than first responders or EMS is," said Bonner.
In 2015, EMS in South Carolina administered Narcan around 4,600 times. That number increased by 39 percent in 2016, with EMS having to administer the drug 6,427 times.
Ward said it's important that law enforcement officers remember being equipped with the drug means they have an opportunity to save a life.
"Just because they've overdosed doesn't mean they aren't a son, daughter, father or mother. Overdoses usually aren't intentional that we see," Ward said.