PEORIA (WEEK) -- Free overdose prevention kits were given out Friday at Peoria Fire Central.
The kits include Narcan, which is sued to counteract the effects of opioids taken in life-threatening quantities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, since 1999, more than 750,000 people have died from a drug overdose. In 2018 alone, two of three deaths involved an opioid.
The Peoria Fire Department has partnered with Drug Overdose Prevention Program through UnityPlace to give out the free kits.
In the kits, there are two doses of internal Narcan, which blocks opioid receptors in the body, as well as resources for substance abuse.
EMS Battalion Chief Roland Tenley says that in the last two years, the Peoria area has seen an improvement of the opioid epidemic, something he attributes to an increase in resources.
However, Tenley says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put a dent in that work.
"Last year in the entire month of July, we gave eight doses of Narcan. This year, so far, we've given 24 doses. So, this only accounts for the fire department's portion which I'd say is probably 33%. So, when you take those numbers into account, those are huge numbers so this will hopefully allow us to put a dent in those numbers and hopefully improve the chance for these patients to survive," said Tenley.
He says the department has been doing this program for almost two and a half years and hopes to reduce the number of overdose deaths in the Peoria area.