WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As the number of drug overdose deaths continues to climb across Kansas (nationwide, the daily average for opioid overdose deaths is 130 people), special Naloxone training sessions for law enforcement agencies are being held throughout the state.

“For us, it’s seconds gained that will potentially save lives,” said Sergeant Christopher Tener with the Wichita State University (WSU) Police Department

There were 20 officers from at least four different police departments (including the Wichita Police Department, the Derby Police Department and the Park City Police Department) who gathered at WSU Wednesday for the city’s first-ever Naloxone training session.

“The goal is going to be to do more events like this where we can train a lot of agencies to go back and then train the officers and deputies that work for those various agencies,” said Daniel Donovan, the Community Support Specialist for DCCCA, an organization that provides social and community services.

In the past 18 months, Donovan has conducted 100 similar training sessions across Kansas (specifically focusing on Central and South-Central Kansas). He says for him, this training is personal.

“Being former law enforcement provides me the opportunity to work with agencies directly and do some more topically-specific instruction,” said Donovan.

Donovan says from March 2020-2021, Kansas saw a 37.2% increase in overall drug overdose deaths, surpassing the 30.8% increase nationwide. It’s an alarming uptick from the March 2018-2019 statistics when Kansas saw a roughly 14% increase in drug overdose deaths while the nation saw a 2.2% decline.

According to Donovan, these types of trainings are crucial for another reason: EMS staffing shortages.

“It can create a very, very extended response time for EMS, and so, law enforcement may be on scene for minutes at a time or more,” said Donovan.

“We have officers that will actually meet EMS and fire to bring them into the scenes because again, with us and our knowledge of the campus and the geography, it’s a lot faster for us to get there,” Sgt. Tener said.

Sgt. Tener says he’s confident within the next couple of weeks, all 30 officers within the WSU Police Department will receive this lifesaving information.