Man saves overdose victim at work thanks to naloxone training

Kevin Barker, TCGplayer's safety officer, called 911, then administered Narcan nasal spray after recognizing symptoms of a possible overdose


James T. Mulder
Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. —  An employee of TCGplayer revived a woman who overdosed in the company’s downtown Syracuse headquarters just three months after learning how to administer Narcan, the overdose reversal drug.

Kevin Barker, the company’s safety officer, responded after the woman wandered into a patio area on the second floor of TCGplayer’s office in the Galleries of Syracuse at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 16 and passed out in a chair.

He and other employees tried rubbing and shaking the woman who was struggling to breathe. They called 911, then administered Narcan nasal spray after recognizing symptoms of a possible overdose.

The woman responded immediately. “She became coherent and stood up on her own,” Barker said. Paramedics then rushed her to a hospital.

Barker recounted the incident today at a news conference organized by ACR Health, which trained Barker and six other employees how to administer Narcan three months before the incident.

Barker did not expect to ever have to administer Narcan. “Without ACR’s training we wouldn’t have recognized the symptoms and treated that individual appropriately,” he said.

TCGplayer, which employs 220 people in Syracuse, operates an online hub for trading new and pre-owned card games, many with dungeons and dragon themes.

ACR officials hope other Syracuse area businesses follow TCGplayer’s example and invite the agency into their workplaces to train employees.

Will Murtaugh of ACR said the agency has already trained more than 5,000 people to administer Narcan, but wants to expand that effort by providing the free training to businesses. There were 334 reported opioid drug overdose deaths in Onondaga County between 2016 and 2018.

“I’ve heard of overdoses happening in car dealerships, restaurants and other businesses where you would not expect it," Murtaugh said.

Cailee Garm, a vice president of TCGplayer, said having ACR train its employees was a “no brainer.” Some employees had already learned how to provide CPR and other emergency treatments. She said all businesses should have Narcan in the workplace.

“Most people who are at risk of an overdose don’t actually want to die and any one of us might find ourselves in a position to provide someone with a life-saving alternative,” she said.

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©2019 Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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