CHICAGO — As the number of opioid-related deaths soars in Chicago, two aldermen introduced a measure Wednesday that would equip all Chicago police officers with nasal spray that could reverse an opioid overdose.
The ordinance, introduced by 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke and 24th Ward Ald. Michael Scott, calls for the City Council to urge the federal and state governments to declare that the opioid epidemic has created a "state of emergency."
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Wednesday signed an executive order to create a task force charged with investigating "strategies to prevent expansion of the opioid crisis, treat and promote the recovery of individuals with opioid-use disorder, and reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths," according to a statement from his office.
Chicago firefighters, who serve as paramedics, already carry naloxone, a nasal spray that can reverse opioid overdoses.
"Even more lives are going to be saved when we put naloxone in the hands of police officers who can also be the first to arrive on the scene of an overdose," Burke said.
City officials announced in July they would fund drug treatment for another 1,000 residents by spending an additional $700,000.
In 2016, there were about 684 opioid-related deaths in Chicago, according to data provided by the Cook County Medical Examiners Office. That represents an increase of nearly 97 percent from 2015, according to the data.
In addition, officials said Chicago recently bought $250,000 worth of naloxone. That effort saved 1,544 lives, and helped the Chicago Recovery Alliance distribute 4,541 naloxone kits, officials said.