Kershaw County, SC (WLTX) - The opioid epidemic is becoming a major problem in our state and now one county's deputies have a new tool that could save lives.

Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office deputies are being trained how to use Narcan, a life-saving opiate overdose antidote.

“The opioid epidemic affects everyone in the community, it is just a core of public safety,” Captain Jack Rushing with the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Department said.

Rushing said folks becoming addicted to heroin, prescriptions and other opiods is a growing problem.

Opiods decrease the sensation of pain and relaxes you but also slows down your breathing and too much could stop your breathing all together and kill you.

“If we don't have it, it could cost someone their life,” Rushing said of the drug.

“Police officers get to the area a lot earlier,” DHEC EMS Director Arnold Alier said of the importance of law enforcement officers having Narcan.

Alier was one of the class instructors who trained the deputies on how to use the nasal spray.

“It basically saves a person just long enough to be taken to treatment,” Alier explained.

Officials say in 2015, almost 600 people in our state died from opioids, and just last year, South Carolina saw almost 7,000 suspected opioid overdoses.

“We're seeing a lot of accidental overdoses,” Alier said.

The EMS director said children are getting into their parents’ or grandparents’ opioid medications and accidentally overdosing. He says Narcan will luckily work for them too.

“It is a relief,” Rushing said of the fact that the officers who may encounter potent and deadly drugs without knowing it will have the Narcan on hand to also protect each other.

The training and the officers' Narcan was paid for by a multi-million-dollar federal grant.

The $3.2 million federal grant was awarded last year for the next five years for things like Narcan, rehabilitation, rehabilitation medicine and training.

The grant was administered by DHEC, DAODAS and the 5th Circuit Solicitors Office.