WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Wichita firefighters will soon carry Narcan, a medication that can reverse drug overdoses. 

New in 2023, the department joins other first responders in Wichita, working to fight the area’s fentanyl crisis, in doing so. Battalion Chief Jose Ocadiz said training is underway. 

“There is a need for it, and as soon as we're able to get our training completed, it's going to be a lot, much faster that we could respond and treat individuals for these types of overdoses,” Ocadiz said. 

Ocadiz said over 50% of the Wichita Fire Department’s over 400 firefighters have already completed the training, which includes a PowerPoint presentation and hands-on exercise. Wichita Police and Sedgwick County EMS already can administer Narcan. 

“Just being able to have this available is another tool for us and to be able to save lives, because that's the purpose of administering Narcan, it’s going to speed up the process, because we are going to be there at times before PD or even EMS arrive on scene,” Ocadiz said. 

Wichita Fire will administer the same dose, 2 milliliters, as Sedgwick County EMS. Ocadiz said the decision is in response to an increase in opioid overdoses in Wichita over the last few years.

“We’re committed to doing everything in our power to address this, including decriminalization of fentanyl test strips, including arming our first responders and our nonprofit partners who are working in this space,” Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said. 

This week’s announcement comes just one week after the Wichita City Council approved a different project, in partnership with Safe Streets Wichita, to hand out Naloxone, or Narcan, to the public. City leaders estimate over 300 people will die in Sedgwick County this year from a fentanyl-related overdose.  

“We’re looking forward to hopefully not needing this, but if we do need it, making sure that folks who are suffering a possible overdose get the treatment they need to save their lives so they can get back to hopefully a life without addiction,” Whipple said. 

Often first on scene, Ocadiz said firefighters will soon not have to wait to use the medication as a life-saving measure. The program will launch once training is complete. 

“Right now, we still administer or just treat a patient as basic life support, you know, make sure we have a open airway and that we have taken vitals and then just start the medical protocols,” Ocadiz said.