Police officers shouldn't be the only ones able to deliver a spray that could save a person overdosing from heroin, Atlantic City's mayor said.

Don Guardian wants all of Public Safety to have Narcan kits, which include an aerosol form of naloxone.

"It's a little different here," he said. "Here, the chances are our Beach Patrol or firefighters will reach the person who has overdosed first."

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The mayor met last week with Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato — who has led the charge in his county — and acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain, who will make the final decision about moving forward in the county.

"Heroin is so cheap, it's on the rise," Guardian said. "Narcan is reversing the effects."

The goal would include having one in each of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol's 11 district stations.

"I feel very strongly about it in a positive way," Beach Patrol Chief Rod Aluise said. "We need to offer this service to the public."

While Atlantic County has not seen the numbers Ocean County has as far as heroin overdoses, the potential to save a life is important, Guardian said.

Lifeguards have not dealt with a lot of drug-related problems, but there have been some, Aluise said.

"I think any time public safety takes on new responsibilities to protect the public, it's a good thing," Fire Chief Dennis Brooks said. "It basically started out as a police issue, but we're often the first on the scene. It makes common sense to plug in the Fire Department as well."

Police Chief Henry White also suggested talking to the casinos about having the kits as well.

"That was a great idea by the chief," Guardian Chief of Staff Chris Filiciello said.

Guardian likened it to having ambassadors with defibrillators on their bicycles.

"Lives were saved," he said. "If opiates are the choice drug that anybody is using, that's going to affect all of us."

McClain was supposed to have a meeting on Narcan on Tuesday, but has not yet said what his decision on it is.

Contact Lynda Cohen:



Follow Lynda Cohen on Twitter @LyndaCohen

Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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