EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Wisconsin Department of Health says the number of overdose cases for heroin has nearly quadrupled since 2002.
That's why state legislators passed a package of bills signed into law Monday aimed at tackling the growing problem.
The seven bills are largely aimed at heroin prevention, treatment and diversion programs.
Another part of the bill package will allow all emergency responders with training to administer Narcan, a drug that counteracts heroin overdoses.
“Heroin is starting to make a comeback and we are starting to see signs of it,” Eau Claire EMS Division Chief Jon Schultz said.
When an overdose call comes in for the paramedics at the Eau Claire Fire Department, first responders reach for the drug Narcan to save lives.
“If someone is unresponsive and not breathing it will wake them up within a couple of minutes,” Schultz explained.
Since 1985, Schultz says only specially trained EMT’s at the department have been able to administer Narcan to overdose patients. Now, thanks to new legislation all EMT’s will be able to give the lifesaving drug.
“The bill will help all first responders carry the drug that helps essentially bring people back that have been in in an overdose,” Gov. Scott Walker said.
Gov. Walker says one of the seven bills signed into law Monday afternoon will allow more people including police, firefighters and first responders to carry the drug that counteracts heroin overdoses. Schultz says the new laws will help first responders, especially in rural areas.
“You are getting a medicine in the communities that is actually going to help reverse the effect of heroin and get these people breathing again verses having to ventilate them all the way to the hospital by hand,” Schultz said.
Schultz says while administering Narcan is nothing new for the Eau Claire Fire Department, the new law will help make sure that every EMT on staff will be trained to administer Narcan no matter what their level of experience is.
The Eau Claire Fire Department says it has given around 40 doses of Narcan to patients in the last year. Schultz added Narcan can be used to treat other types of overdoses caused by opiate drugs.
As far as cost goes, the department says each dose is $2.50, a cost that the department includes in their annual budget.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin law enforcement groups are applauding the governor's signing of seven bills that target the state's heroin epidemic.
Gov. Scott Walker signed four of the bills, dubbed Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education or HOPE, into law Monday. Walker planned to sign all seven bills later in the day. All seven bills were authored by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.
The bills already signed increase state funding for heroin treatment programs and grant immunity to anyone who calls 911 to report a drug overdose.
Walker also signed a bill that will create regional drug treatment facilities and a bill that creates a system of short-term sanctions for parole and probation violators.
The signing came as little surprise after all seven bills found widespread support and passed both state houses unanimously.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker plans to sign seven anti-heroin bills at stops across Wisconsin.
Walker scheduled bill signings for Monday in Marinette, Stevens Point, Eau Claire, and Milwaukee. The bills all easily cleared the Legislature earlier this year with bipartisan support.
One bill would permit all emergency responders with training to administer Narcan, a drug that counteracts heroin overdoses.
Another would guarantee a measure of immunity for anyone who calls 911 to report an overdose.
A third bill would allow municipalities to hold prescription drug collection drives.
And a fourth would require identification to obtain prescription drugs containing narcotics.
All four were introduced by Rep. John Nygren, a Republican from Marinette, whose daughter has struggled with heroin addiction.