By Porshai Nielsen, News Writer October 26, 2020
Photo Courtesy of Chronicle archives.
The University of Utah Department of Pediatrics partnered with Utah Naloxone to provide free training for community first responders to use and carry Narcan, and this program has led to the prevention of over 3,000 deaths.
On Oct. 15, the training was held via Zoom where 130 participants joined. Due to COVID-19, in-person training has been canceled, but that fact has not stopped the organization from providing training and supplies to community members.
Utah Naloxone works hard to align their values with the Utah Harm Reduction Coalition. The non-profit community-based organization works to provide education and resources to aid people in reducing harm in social and physical environments that are commonly associated with substance abuse.
According to the presentation given during training, “The goal is to help inform individuals in community settings in Utah on how to recognize and treat suspected opioid overdoses with naloxone. All humans are valued.”
Utah Naloxone is working to reach community members as there has been a significant rise in opioid-related overdoses in Utah. Research provided by U Health and Use Only as Directed shows people who live in Utah are more likely to die from an opioid-related overdose than a car accident, falling or a firearm assault.
Naloxone is a medication used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation.
“We see ourselves as healthy living — we get out and ride mountain bikes, we don’t drink or smoke. [But] by 2014, Utah arrived as the fourth highest in the U.S for overdose deaths,” said Dr. Jennifer Plumb, a co-founder of Utah Naloxone and University of Utah Health Emergency Medicine physician.
The presentation includes data on various findings related to opioid overdose and death, some about age and other demographics. The company lists the most common opioids, which include heroin, opium, morphine, fentanyl and more. They recognize all types of opioids are risky substances and addiction to them can develop in as little as seven days.
The reason first responders should carry Naloxone is they are first on the scene. Carrying Naloxone reduces the feeling of helplessness while waiting for emergency responders to arrive alone with potentially being life-saving.
“While working in a high-risk area of Salt Lake, having Naloxone was great peace of mind. I am grateful for never having to use it myself but it is comforting to know that in case of emergency, I would have the ability to help save someone’s life,” said Hannah Staller, a fourth-year business student.
The training describes exactly what Naloxone is and what it is not so that everyone will understand how to use it. There is an emphasis on the fact that anyone can administer naloxone, it is not addictive and there will be no effects on a person if used on someone who has not overdosed on opiates.
After the hour-long course, participants know why carrying Naloxone is important, how to recognize an overdose and how to administer the medication. Perhaps the most beneficial part of the program is that every participant will be sent two doses of injectable Naloxone for no cost.
“Injectable Naloxone kits cost about $50 in the pharmacy. We have been very fortunate to get pricing that allows us to give these kits out far and wide,” Plumb said.
Participants can ask questions during the presentation via Zoom’s chat feature and someone is constantly monitoring it so everyone will have a chance to achieve a perfect understanding to use it.
Training is open to the public, completely free and occurs at least once a month. Utah Naloxone often partners with other community organizations and universities. To sign up for training or to contact them, click here.