PORT RICHEY, Fla. — For the second year in a row, the Port Richey Fire Department has been approved for a State Health Department's "HEROS" program, which provides the life-saving drug Narcan to first responders for free.
Here are 5 things to know about the program and how it's working:
1. Importance: Since crews began carrying Narcan in late 2018, Chief Tim Sirois said it's become a literal life-saver. From March 3 of 2019 to February 19, the department responded to 19 overdoses that required the use of narcan.
Officials say that's a significant amount, considering the department covers just 2.5 square miles. The doses used were provided for free through the HEROS program, which stands form Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support.
2. Costs: Officials said the fire department budgets up to $5,000 for medical supplies each year, and each dose of Narcan costs roughly $104, which during the first year of the program saved the city and its taxpayers $2,000.
Port Richey Police Chief Gerard DeCanio said that the cost is the reason the department doesn't purchase its own Narcan.
"It would put a strain on the budget, which right now, I don't have a line item for that," he said.
DeCanio said the police department is working on its own application for the HEROS program.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has also participated in the HEROS program.
3. Stats: According to the Florida Health Department, in 2018, the number of deaths in the state by heroin tallied 952; deaths by fentanyl tallied 1390; deaths by oxycodone tallied 723, and deaths by hydrocodone tallied 245. In 2017, Florida's emergency responders treated nearly 45,202 drug overdoses.
4. Qualifications: The HEROS program is open to Florida agencies that employ first responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, and paramedics. The agency must also agree to report Narcan administrations and join the Minnesota Mult-State Contracting Alliance for Pharmacy Agreement.
5. Apply: For more information and the HEROS application, click here.