The Alaska National Guard usually responds to natural disasters, but, Wednesday they responded to a different kind of crisis.


Guardsmen flew to Galena, a small town on the Yukon River. They distributed Narcan kits, showed residents how to use them and discussed the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.


“Galena doesn’t have a lot of opioids out here right now, but, there’s always that potential in the future, that risk, and we want to bring out education and bring out prevention and bring out a method of reducing harm now versus when it’s too late,” said Sgt. Elijah Gutierrez, a civil operator with the Alaska National Guard Counterdrug Support Program.


The Guard is handing out Narcan as part of Governor Bill Walker’s opioid epidemic disaster declaration, getting the life-saving drug to the places it’s needed most.


“People were dying and this was a way to save lives,” said Gutierrez. “You can give somebody Narcan, bring them back from an overdose and then buy them more time and really buy them a second chance.”


The Guard partnered with the Department of Health and Social Services and Project Hope on the outreach initiative. So far, they’ve handed out about 5000 Narcan kits.