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State Patrol armed for overdoses

Wisconsin State Patrol officers are now trained and equipped to administer Narcan, the lifesaving antidote for opioid overdoses, according to a news release issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Opioids are powerful drugs such as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine and fentanyl. Many of these drugs are used as pain relievers, but also can be addictive.

According to the Department of Health Services, in 2016, 827 people died in Wisconsin of opioid overdose deaths caused by heroin or prescription drugs. From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths in Wisconsin due to prescription opioids increased 600 percent, from 81 to 568 in 2016. Heroin overdose deaths increased 12 times, from 28 deaths in 2000 to 371 deaths in 2016.

"Opioid abuse is an increasingly difficult challenge for law enforcement and emergency responders across the state," said Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent J.D. Lind. "Our primary mission is to save lives, and equipping all our officers with Narcan provides another important tool to help us carry out that mission."

State Patrol K-9 officers are receiving additional training to assist service animals that may have incidental contact with opioids such as heroin or fentanyl.