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'This crisis can touch anyone' | Austin distributing 15K doses of Narcan following overdose surge

Overdose response kits will go to libraries, city departments, community groups and businesses near drug hotspots.

AUSTIN, Texas — Thousands of doses of Narcan are headed to Austin libraries, city departments, community groups, and businesses near drug hot spots.

The move comes after a dramatic surge in overdoses in late April that killed nine people. The nasal spray can reverse the effects of an overdose of opioids, including fentanyl.

Congressman Lloyd Doggett secured $2 million in federal funding to pay for 15,000 overdose response kits, along with training for city workers and community groups.

“This is not just a problem that impacts the vulnerable homeless, though that would be reason enough to act,” said Doggett.

Doggett was one of several elected officials who announced the plan at the Central Library. Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly revealed she lost two family friends in January to an unexpected fentanyl overdose.

“They were not known drug users, and their tragic passing is a somber reminder that this crisis can touch anyone,” Kelly said.

RELATED: Why deaths related to Austin's 'overdose outbreak' may not be ruled an overdose

Austin-Travis County EMS Chief Robert Luckritz credited Narcan with preventing even more deaths during the recent overdose surge. He revealed Monday that in more than 80% of the calls during the surge, victims received Narcan before paramedics arrived.

“That’s a staggering number that is way better than it was three years ago,” Travis County Judge Andy Brown told KVUE. “That means our community is understanding what Narcan is. They’re having Narcan and they’re administering it.”

Workers at the Texas Harm Reduction Alliance told KVUE they see a mix of people at their outreach events. Jay Smith was one of the outreach workers handing out Narcan and other supplies near the Sunrise Navigation Center in South Austin on Monday.

“I know what it’s like. I’ve been there myself. Narcan saved my life," Smith said.

During the recent surge, Smith says he used the reversal drug on someone having an overdose.

“It’s like we were at the right place at the right time,” Smith said.

Anyone interested in these overdose response kits or the training can call 311 or go to Austin Public Health’s website.

RELATED: Death toll in Austin overdose outbreak could be as high as 9 despite apparent slowdown

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