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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KSDK) - Late Wednesday night, state leaders gave first responders a new tool to prevent something that's become all too common: deadly overdoses from heroin.

The Missouri legislature passed a bill allowing police and first responders to give a drug called NARCAN to people who have overdosed on heroin. It's now heading to the governor's desk for his signature.

Experts say NARCAN works in less than 60 seconds and is proven to save lives. Heroin can be one of the most deadly drugs around. There's no way to know how strong or lethal the dose is.

Supporters say NARCAN could save countless lives. Opponents worry NARCAN will encourage risky behavior.

One of the supporters is St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who has been pushing to give police the option of using NARCAN for a long time. In fact, when we interviewed shortly after he took the job, this issue topped his to-do list.

"If we have the ability to administer NARCAN to people and save their lives, save that loved one for their family, we are going to do it. And we're exploring if we can do that right now," Belmar said.

No word on if the governor intends to sign the bill into law.

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