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Ohio program trains civilians to administer overdose antidote

Trainees learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of overdoes and how to properly adminster Naloxone

By Wayne Allen
Portsmouth Daily Times

Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone) has been credited with saving it’s first life.

The Portsmouth City Health Department was chosen by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to be Ohio’s first Community-Based Naloxone Overdose Reversal Project. Project DAWN started in April.

The program is funded with $40,000 in seed money from the ODH and administered by the Portsmouth City Health Department.

According to the Federal Drug Administration, Naloxone is a synthetic drug, similar to morphine, that blocks opiate receptors in the nervous system.

Participants of the program will be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of overdose and able to distinguish between types of overdoes. Participants will also learn how to properly administer Naloxone.

Lisa Roberts with the Portsmouth City Health Department explained, when the life was saved, “a couple of people just happened upon a person who was unconscious in an alley. They recognized there was something bad going on with the guy. He was breathing, they used Naloxone. Because he was breathing they stayed with him until the ambulance arrived.”

She said the incident occurred within the last month and, as a result, the person survived.

“This is a good thing for Scioto County because we get to be the leader and set the stage for what the rest of the state does,” said Lisa Roberts. “We were asked to do this and they (ODH officials) will be providing funding. We will be setting the stage and establishing a program that has the potential to be replicated throughout the state.”

She said similar programs are being established in Cincinnati and Cleveland based on the program started at the Portsmouth City Health Department.

She said there are about 60 people currently in the program with room to grow.

“We’ve tied this in with some of our other programs. We have collaborated with some of the treatment programs to have their clients come in here and get these. We also have some of our participants in the syringe exchange program who are predominantly opiate addicted,” Roberts said.

Roberts believes the first sign of the programs success was peoples willingness to participate.

“Other people have told me they’ve seen my clients in drug use situations with their first aid overdose kit on them, it’s becoming part of their lives, so that’s a good sign,” Roberts said. “Knowing these are the people are going to be in high risk situations, they need to be first responders. I tell all of them it can take 20 minutes for an ambulance to get some places and that’s just to long to wait.”

She said in Ohio there are efforts underway with the Ohio Attorney Generals Office, Ohio Department of Health and others to move towards what other communities in other states are doing with similar programs.

“Some communities are passing good Samaritan laws, for people who respond to an overdose. The law would state they can’t be prosecuted for helping someone in that situation,” Roberts said.

Roberts said one of the goals of the Project DAWN program was to get people not to be reluctant to call an ambulance and get a person held if they are in a bad situation.

“Sometimes people are in the company of drug activity and are reluctant to call the ambulance or the law,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the health department has been working with the state medical board of Ohio to establish policies and procedures for the program.

Roberts said the Portsmouth Health Department was asked to name the program, since it was the first site. The program is named after Leslie Dawn Cooper, the daughter of Barbara Howard. Cooper lost her life to prescription drug overdose.

For more information call Roberts at 740-353-5153 or visit www.healthyohioprogram.org/vipp/drug/ProjectDAWN.aspx

Republished with permission from the Portsmouth Daily Times

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