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The emblem of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is seen at the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has launched a new program to protect deputies who might come into contact with the drug, fentanyl.

The opioid can be absorbed through the skin and accidentally inhaled, and is a common agent for heroin. Law enforcement agencies across the country have reported an increase in exposure to the potentially deadly painkiller, according to a news release.

The program will issue Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose, to police officers.

Although HCSO has deployed the use of Narcan for the safety of its deputies, the Narcan can also be utilized to help citizens in need of emergency medical attention as necessary.

Officers are often the first to arrive at the scene, and experts say those early minutes can be the key to saving a life, according to a news release.

Just this past week, a HCSO traffic investigator issued Narcan to a suspected female overdose victim, stabilizing her until emergency medical staff arrived on the scene, according to a news release.

The HCSO will pay for the Narcan kits with money from the County's Drug Forfeiture Fund.

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