WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui police are now carrying a nasal spray that can stop a drug overdose brought on by opiates.
It's the first police department in the state to deploy the overdose reversal spray islandwide.
Chief Tivoli Faaumu says Naloxone was first supplied to its narcotics unit earlier this year after after officers started coming across fentanyl.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the painkiller is up to 50 times stronger than heroin. Accidental exposure to the drug has sent several first responders on the mainland to the hospital.
Now many of MPD's patrol officers are being supplied with the medication as well.
"Each beat on each district will receive a kit," said Faaumu. "We pass it on from shift to shift."
The nasal spray counteracts the effects of opiates — drugs like Oxycontin, heroin and fentanyl.
According to the Department of Health, between 2013 and 2016, a total of 79 people died on Maui after overdosing on drugs.
"A lot of people say it's not a police function. But being a first responder it's something that we can help the community with before the medical personnel arrives at the scene," said Faaumu.
Last week, the executive director of the CHOW Project taught Maui police officers how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose and administer the Naloxone.
"It's very safe. There are no side effects to it. If you aren't experiencing an overdose there's no harm," said Heather Lusk.
The department was given 200 kits. They were paid for by a grant from the state Department of Health.
Faaumu said so far none of his officers have had to use the medication. But he said he's glad they have it if they need it.
"I believe it will be something that benefits the community," said Faaumu.
Officers on Kauai were also recently trained to use Naloxone, but it hasn't yet been distributed among the department's patrol officers.