PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — As Rhode Island continues to set a record for the number of accidental overdose deaths in a single year, one local group is working to prevent lives from being lost to the drug crisis.

Project Weber/RENEW offered training Tuesday evening to show people how to spot and respond to an overdose. It will also provide people with free overdose reversal medication, like Narcan or Naloxone, and fentanyl test strips.

As 12 News reported in March, more Rhode Islanders died of accidental overdoses in 2021 that any other year in state history, with data at the time showing 414 overdose deaths.

“We’ve all said that those numbers were going up, but seeing them displayed this way brings it truly home how important the work we have ahead of us is,” Ana Novais, assistant secretary for the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said.

The number is still growing as the state Medical Examiner’s Office continues to determine the cause of death for Rhode Islanders between October and December.

As of May 16, RIDOH data shows 437 people died from accidental overdoses last year, a number that still hasn’t been finalized.

Data shows the highly-potent opioid fentanyl is largely helping to drive that uptick, contributing to about 75% of fatal overdoses in just the first six months of 2021. Cocaine contributed about 50%.

“I don’t think that we have ever experienced this loss of life in our communities, and it’s important to recognize the loss of loved ones,” Novais said in March. “Those are our neighbors, friends, coworkers, or family for many of us.”

More than a dozen people attended the training, which was held at News Cafe in Pawtucket

“People go to bars and they may do some recreational things, and we just want them to be safe by giving them the knowledge and the tools … so that a recreational evening doesn’t have to ultimately turn out to be a funeral,” Project Weber/RENEW’s overdose prevention program director Dennis Bailer said.