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NY EMS, police, senator hold free public Narcan training

All participants in the class received a certificate of completion and an emergency resuscitation kit that included two doses of Narcan.

By Jessica Reynolds
The Daily Star

ONEONTA, N.Y. — Concerned law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians and several former drug users met at FoxCare Center in Oneonta on Wednesday night to learn how to use a lifesaving heroin overdose medication.

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, hosted the free heroin and opioid overdose prevention training, which was open to the public. Preventing overdose deaths is a key aspect in the short term battle against these drugs, Seward said.

“Training more individuals to administer the overdose reversal medicine Naxolone, or Narcan, will save lives,” Seward said.

The event was sponsored by Seward, Friends of Recovery of Delaware and Otsego Counties, Inc., and Otsego County Addiction Recovery Services.

Joseph Filippone, project manager for Catholic Charities’ “Project Safe Point,” was on hand to explain how to administer Naxolone, how the drug works and in which situations it can be used. Samara Gabree, a nurse practitioner, was also present to speak about how opioids and Naxolone affect the body.

Naxolone, or Narcan, is a prescription medicine that can be administered nasally in fatal overdose situations. It can revive someone who is overdosing within three to five minutes, similar to the way an EpiPen works for someone who is suffering an allergic reaction to a bee sting, Filippone said.

Currently, in order to obtain this life-saving medication and be allowed to administer it, individuals must complete a training class, Filippone said. Many counties in New York are now providing all first responders with Narcan, he said.

Wednesday’s class met New York State Department of Health requirements and all participants in the class received a certificate of completion and an emergency resuscitation kit that included two doses of Narcan.

Filippone also spoke about the new 911 Good Samaritan Law, which prohibits prosecution of anyone who reports a heroin overdose to police or emergency medical technicians. Lt. Douglas Brenner Brenner, of the Oneonta city police, spoke up about the law when asked about it by Filippone.

“When it comes down to it, it’s about doing the right thing,” Brenner said. “If someone is clearly trying to do the right thing and keep someone safe, they won’t get in trouble.”

But the Good Samaritan Law does not protect individuals against charges of murder, reckless endangerment or disorderly conduct if they are involved in any of these crimes when police arrive at the scene of the overdose, Brenner said. Brenner was one of several law enforcement officials to take part in the training class.

Joan and Robert Cronauer, both of Franklin, were taking the training class because they are emergency medical technicians. Joan said she has used Narcan many times and believes she saved a patient’s life once with the medication.

Several individuals in the room spoke up when Filippone asked them what Narcan makes a person feel like.

“It wakes you right up,” one man said. “But then you have withdrawal. I know from experience,” another man said.

Filippone told the audience that Narcan cannot hurt an individual if they are not actually overdosing and does not react dangerously with any other drugs. Trust your instincts, he said, and administer the medication, even if you’re not sure whether the individual has overdosed. It could save someone’s life.

Justin Thalheimer, Otsego County Chemical Dependency Program Manager, said Narcan has already saved many lives that may have been lost to overdoses.

“It is a matter of time before it saves a life here if it has not already,” Thalheimer said. “Senator Seward’s assistance in highlighting this emergency treatment is a significant step in educating the public.”

Seward is a member of the Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, and hosted a roundtable discussion last week to talk about the rise in heroin and opioid use and to solicit advice from local experts on what can be done. 

Seward, who also received certification Wednesday night, said training classes are a good place to start. He applauded individuals who participated in the training.

“If we can save just one life by taking this class,” Seward said, “it will be worth it.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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