New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell knows firsthand how serious the heroin and opioid overdose epidemic is for the country and the city.
"Like a lot of other folks, I've had friends, I've had one family member who've had these issues and frankly died from overdoses. It's a sad thing and you'd be hard pressed to find anybody who hasn't been touched in some way. So we've got to act," he said.
Mitchell said he can't wait until all first responders are equipped with Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride). The drug is an effective antidote.
The fire department expects to begin administering Narcan the first week of May while the police department is in the middle of training and plans to go live with the program June 1.
Currently, only New Bedford EMS carries the antidote.
"It saves lives, plain and simple, and we've had like other communities a spike in overdoses, which is attributed to a number of factors. But the reality is that we have to take steps to save people's lives and get them into treatment," Mitchell said.
A pilot program through the state will provide firefighters and officers with the training and supplies they need.