LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- An area fire department wants to start giving medicine that’s used to treat narcotics overdoses.
The La Crosse Fire Department wants to be part of a state pilot program that would allow them to give Narcan.
La Crosse Assistant Fire Chief Warren Thomas called heroin a problem that impacts the whole state.
“We can’t just keep locking everybody up, and too many people are overdosing and dying,” said Thomas.
If there’s a drug overdose, currently, the fire department would have to wait for Tri-State Ambulance to administer Narcan.
It’s a medication used to reverse or stop the effects of a narcotic, but they’re hoping that will change.
The fire department is trying to be part of a pilot program through the state mergency medical services office.
It lets basic level emergency medical technicians give Narcan to someone who’s overdosed, potentially saving lives.
“We’re very concerned since 2009, I want to say our overdose calls have increased to over 50%, and we’re probably going to hit 100 this year for responses for overdose calls,” said Thomas.
Tri-State Ambulance said Narcan was used 166 times last year.
They expect to use it almost 200 times by the end of the year.
“The fact that we’re using it more often just speaks to the problem in the community of the increased use of heroin, and other narcotics that can be abused and subsequently overdosing,” said Tri-State Ambulance Operations Supervisor Jay Clark.
Fred Hornby is the Paramedic and Education Coordinator with the Wisconsin EMS Office.
He said about 50 applicants will be chosen for the pilot program, which will last about a year.
“The departments will benefit by helping the communities, and that’s really what we’re looking at,” said Hornby.
If the La Crosse Fire Department is approved for the pilot program, they’re expected to start January 1.
Thomas said Narcan can also be used on someone who has overdosed on Krokodil.
It’s a drug that eats at a person’s flesh and bones that’s expected to come to the La Crosse area.