BRICK TOWNSHIP - Gov. Chris Christie met with first responders Wednesday to announce a program that will train police officers to administer emergency treatment for those who overdose on heroin.
The meeting in Brick Township comes more than a week after the governor signed a waiver allowing first responders in New Jersey to carry and administer Narcan. The nasally-injected drug counteracts the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs.
The pilot program will focus on Ocean and Monmouth counties. Christie says police in all 32 Ocean County municipalities are already being trained, and the training of police officers in Monmouth County will begin soon.
"Today, we're adding another new tool in our fight to save lives from drug abuse and addiction," Christie says.
Christie said the waiver complements the state's Overdose Prevention Act. The measure shields someone overdosing on drugs and those who get them medical assistance from prosecution if they act in good faith.
More than 28,000 certified EMTs and EMT-trained police officers will be allowed to carry and administer Narcan after they complete training approved by the state Health Department.
Heroin overdose deaths have more than doubled in Ocean County, according to the governor's office. There were 53 overdose deaths in 2012 and 112 last year. Monmouth County has had more than 180 heroin overdose deaths since 2011.