Fulton leaders spend thousands to help reduce heroin overdoses

Fulton County commissioners agreed Wednesday to help supply local officers with a drug that can save the lives of people overdosing on heroin or other opiates.

The decision had been delayed a week after commissioners expressed concern that the drug problem wasn't thought of as a county-wide issue. With 104 related deaths in 2015, Fulton County had more heroin deaths than anywhere else in the state.

This week, leaders voted unanimously to spend $49,000 in seed money to help emergency responders receive naloxone. The drug can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose.

"If we can save even one life, it is money well spent," Chairman John Eaves said in a statement. "But be clear, this is only a start. There is much more we need to do to tackle the crisis."

Before the vote, residents who had lost people to overdoses urged the county to spend the money.

Vice Chairman Liz Hausmann said the drug is "essential" to stemming the tide of heroin deaths.

“Plain and simple, anti-overdose medications save lives and are critical in our efforts in Fulton County to handle this crisis,” she said in a statement.

Commissioners also agreed to develop a plan that would train first responders to use the drug.

Nationally, the number of deaths has skyrocketed. More than 10,500 people died of heroin-related overdoses in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's up 26 percent from 2013.