The St. Paul Police Department is arming its officers in the ongoing battle to prevent opioid overdose deaths.
The department is teaming up with Regions Hospital Emergency Medical Services to teach officers how to administer the opioid overdose antidote, Narcan.
John Loretz, a police department executive sergeant, said the opioid epidemic is a public health problem. He said officers are often first on the scene and minutes count when there's an overdose.
"We just want to have one more tool to offer those officers to provide life saving measures," Loretz said.
• Health officials: Get opioid overdose antidote in your medicine cabinet now
The training includes administering the drug to civilians and officers who have inhaled powdered opioid that's airborne.
Full implementation of the program is slated for the year's end. So far 200 doses of the drug have been distributed to members of the force.
Dr. Bjorn Peterson said the antidote can be an effective intervention but it's not a solution to the raging opioid crisis.
"Other states like Ohio, they're saving people but they're finding that they're saving the same people over and over," Peterson said. "So this is one step toward in addressing the deaths from opioid overdoses but we still need to do more to address the opioid crisis we're dealing with."