KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Dale DeKorte said Feb. 22 started off as just another day, but quickly turned into a race against time to save the lives of three people who overdosed in a car in the middle of a Kentwood road.

DeKorte had just cleared a complaint at the Woodland Mall when he noticed something seemed off on a nearby road.

“I observed a vehicle that was holding up traffic on Shaffer Avenue,” DeKorte said Tuesday, speaking only to 24 Hour News 8.

A line of cars were behind the stopped vehicle. DeKorte said he thought it had stalled, so he went to help. As he got closer, he made a startling discovery.

“Front passenger and driver were passed out with their heads up against the windows, mouth wide open and the subjects appeared gray in color,” he recalled.

He soon realized all three people in the car had passed out. He called for backup. A Kentwood officer who he was with at the mall responded immediately and helped one of the people, who was partially conscious and mumbling.

With previous experience as a medic and needles found inside the car as clues, he knew it was an overdose — and he knew he had to act fast.

So he administered Narcan — a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose — to the two who were in the worst condition.

“These individuals were breathing two times a minute, which is not enough for adequate profusion and that’s what gave them their gray color,” DeKorte said.

In calls like that one, law enforcement officers are often first on the scene, so officers like DeKorte are now equipped with Narcan as they battle an epidemic first responders say is growing at alarming rate.

“It’s just become such a problem in the community and people are doing it out and about in the public more often. They need that fix,” DeKorte said.

He said that poses an even larger risk when addicts put others, like the other drivers, at risk.

DeKorte said that last year, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department had to administer Narcan 16 times and that deputies have had to use it eight times already this year.