More than 2,000 FDNY firefighters and EMTs will begin carrying naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
"With the growing number of patients suffering from overdoses of both legal and illegal drugs, it is our duty as the providers of pre-hospital care in New York City to expand our ability to save lives with this treatment," Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement on Monday.
The firefighters and EMTS will be capable of administering internasal naloxone on Tuesday. Training began in March after special protocol was established by the state Department of Health.
Naloxone, sometimes referred to as a "heroin antidote," can reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Authorities said the medication works rapidly enough to give FDNY units "critical time" to transport patients to the hospital.
Paramedics have carried naloxone for decades. So far this year, 905 FDNY paramedics have administered the drug more than 3,200 times - an increase of 15 percent from the same time in 2013.
Heroin-related overdose deaths have increased 84 percent between 2010 and 2012 after four years of decline, according to officials. Staten Island and Manhattan are among the top 10 New York counties for the number of opioid-related hospitalizations per 1,000 residents.
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