WAYNESVILLE, Mo. -

In September 2013, Gary Carmack's life changed forever.

"Very nice young man, he was known as a gentle giant, he was about 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, tall dark hair, always smiling just really good kid, but he had an illness, an addiction and this addiction is a disease and he was fighting it hard and he was trying hard, but we just didn't quite make it," said Carmack.

Carmack's son, James, died from heroin overdose.  His mission now is getting word out about a drug called naloxone, or narcan, which can save the life of an overdose victim.   Carmack has seen its value first hand as the chief of the Pulaski County Ambulance District and the deputy coroner.

"Heroin, as well as any of the opiates, Oxycontin, percodan, percocet, any of those, what they do is essentially cause the brain to go to sleep so it forgets to breathe, so that person just suffocates, and what narcan does is fill that opiate receptor site, so it rejects the narcotic, the opiate, and so the person can then start breathing again.  I've given it so many times as a paramedic, it's very successful, as long as you get to the person in time," he said.

A state lawmaker is on board with Carmack's mission, pushing a bill that would let any qualified first responder give narcan to any person suffering from an apparent heroin-related overdose, in life or death cases.

Pulaski County Sheriff Ronald Long also likes the idea that his officers could carry a nasal spray version of narcan.

"We are looking at something that is not that expensive, that is easy to use and it's going to save some lives if we can have it in our possession," said Long.

Time equals lives in Pulaski County, where on average one person dies each month from heroin.

Carmack and Long also play key roles on the Pulaski County Heroin Action Committee. Their goal is to reduce the number of addicts and overdose deaths in the area.