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First responders battling the opioid epidemic with Narcan

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DANVILLE, Va. (WSET) -- According to the Virginia Department of Health, opioids kill more people than breast cancer. Because of that, first responders are trying to prevent these deaths from happening.

Naloxene which is also known as Narcan can save a person's life in an instant if they are suffering from an opioid overdose.

Danville Life Saving Crew Paramedic Jim Mullins said many people take opioids for chronic problems and to relieve pain. However, he said it can lead to an addiction and people searching for street drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

More than 63,600 people died in 2016 due to a drug overdose said the Virginia Department of Health. The most recent data from that year shows the rated of people dying from prescription overdoses in Danville was 9.5. The state's average was 5.5.

The rate of people dying from Heroin and Fentanyl overdoses is 7.1 in Danville while the state's rate is 9.6.

Mullins said he is seeing an increase in opioid doses locally. "I've probably given more Narcan in the last three years than I've given in the last 37 years total...that's how bad it has gotten that people are either accidentally or abusively getting this medication and taking it," he said.

Just a month and a half into 2018, Mullins said he has already used Narcan three times to bring people back from their overdoses. Narcan has been available in Virginia over-the-counter without a prescription since 2016.

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