CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The heroin epidemic is no stranger here.
This past week, the first Charleston police officer administered an overdose-reversal drug that saved a man's life.
Carl Fehr is the division chief of Charleston County EMS. He said responding to opioid overdoses is normal in all parts of the Lowcountry.
"You never know what you're going to get into on a daily basis," Fehr said.
"Heroin and opiate use abuse addiction is a crisis in the low country," Charleston DEA resident agent Jason Sandoval added.
Narcan is a drug that's in every single EMS vehicle. Firefighters and police are getting trained to use it, as well. Narcan, also known as Naloxone, can be injected in to your vein, bone, muscle or it can also be sprayed into your nose as a mist.
"Narcan is a medicine that we used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose," Fehr said. "Within a minute or two of administering the Narcan, if the person has overdosed on an opiate, they'll start to wake up."
Opioids are depressants that affect your respiratory system which can cause you to stop breathing.
"We can go from somebody on the brink of death of not breathing, were having to breathe for them. Somebody that is just minutes away from dying, we give them the medicine and they're back sober again and they're awake and talking to us."
Sandoval said the Lowcountry's heroin and opioid usage is double, even triple in some areas, the national average.
"Charleston county was 15% higher than the national average in terms of heroin overdose deaths not including opioids. Dorchester County in 2015 was almost 190% higher than the national average. Berkeley County is in 2014 was about 140% higher than the national average," Sandoval said,
If you or someone you know has an issue with drug abuse or addiction, click this link for help.