All MTA police officers patrolling Metro North, Long Island Railroad and Staten Island Railway trains will soon carry naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Credit: Getty Images
Police officers on New York's railways will soon be equipped with a life-saving heroin antidote.
More than 650 police officers patrolling Long Island Railroad, Metro-North and Staten Island Railway trains will carry naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, officials will announce Tuesday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will get 670 naloxone kits as part of the New York attorney general's Community Overdose Prevention Program.
"By providing every MTA police officer with naloxone kits, we are making this stunningly effective overdose antidote available on a major artery into New York City's suburbs," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.
In addition to being given the kits, which will include two syringes of naloxone and two nasal sprays, MTA officers will be trained to administer the drug in a medical emergency.
"MTA police officers are trained to handle emergencies from the busiest railroad stations to the farthest-flung tracks, and giving them the tools to handle a heroin overdose immediately is simply the right thing to do," MTA Police Chief Michael Coan said in a statement.
The move is part of a push to supply first responders with the antidote as heroin sees a national resurgence.
The first police department to require officers to carry the drug, in Quincy, Massachusetts, reversed more than 200 overdoses since fall 2010, according to Schneiderman's office.
New York City paramedics have carried naloxone for decades, but the drug is now carried by medical technicians and firefighters, the fire department said last month.
NYPD officers from just one Staten Island precinct saved three overdose patients with the drug in the first few months of 2014. Last month, city officials announced the expansion the naloxone program on Staten Island with federal funding.
For the naloxone kits, the MTA will get at least $40,000 in criminal and civil forfeiture money though the attorney general's overdose prevention program. Since launching last month, more than 100 law enforcement agencies have applied to the program, which Schneiderman said "will literally save lives."
MTA Vice Chairman Fernando Ferrer thanked Schneiderman for helping put the "vital antidote" in MTA police hands.
"The MTA network spans 5,000 square miles from New York City to the farthest suburbs, and it's a sad fact of life that heroin use is a growing problem that knows no boundaries," Ferrer said in a statement.