La Crosse firefighters could soon be equipped with Narcan, a drug to revive heroin users from an overdose.The department has met with the Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services office to begin work a project to provide basic EMTs with the life saving drug.
In 2012, firefighters responded to 98 reported overdoses. So far this year they have responded to 86. The department has dealt with a 53% increase in possible overdoses since 2009.
Firefighters respond to all 911 emergency calls. However, only Tri-State Ambulance paramedics are authorized to carry Narcan. Firefighters can only manage circulation and breathing until paramedics arrive on the scene.
Narcan also could save users suffering from an overdose of krokodil. Similarly to heroin, its users report tissue damage as a common side-effect. Officials predict that the drug will eventually reach La Crosse.
Recently, the La Crosse police department also has began looking into equipping officers with Narcan as well. Many firefighters have the same EMT and paramedic training as ambulance personnel. Police officers do not typically have this type of emergency training.