Cleveland paramedics to distribute kits to battle heroin overdoses

CLEVELAND-- Cleveland EMS units are taking the next step toward trying to stop the soaring number of overdoses from heroin, so many of them deadly.

Paramedics will now hand out kits, including three doses of a drug that reverses the effects of heroin, information on how to get treatment and more. The kits will be distributed at EMS headquarters and by crews on the streets to friends and loved ones of those struggling with addiction.

For years, Cleveland ambulance crews already carried Narcan for use on patients.

"Our hope is to save lives, and yes , I know,  people may use heroin again. But we're hoping to save lives so that people will go into rehab," EMS Commissioner Nicole Carlton said.

The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association would like officers to carry the same drug for use on calls since officers are often first on the scene of an overdose incident.

The city plans to get the drugs into the hands of patrol officers also, but that could take months.

The city of Cleveland said its EMS force is the first public safety unit in the nation to distribute the kits. They’re put together under Project Dawn with the help of other local agencies.

There are about 1,000 agencies approved to also dispense naloxone without a prescription in the state of Ohio. Click here to see the list.