Free opioid overdose kits distributed in Ill.

Each person who took a kit was taught how to administer naloxone; the effort is being funded by a federal grant


By Leslie Renken
Journal Star

PEORIA, Ill. — Traffic was brisk during the opioid overdose kit giveaway at the Peoria Central Fire House on Wednesday afternoon.

Within the first 20 minutes, 16 little red bags containing three doses of Naloxone and three retractable syringes were given away by Sue Tisdale, a community educator with the Human Service Center of Peoria.

Within the first 20 minutes, 16 little red bags containing three doses of naloxone and three retractable syringes were given away. (AP Photo)
Within the first 20 minutes, 16 little red bags containing three doses of naloxone and three retractable syringes were given away. (AP Photo)

"I'm a Yellow Checker Cab driver," said Ron Piper while waiting in line for a kit. "My job takes me around to a lot of people. You never know when you are going to be at the right place at the right time."

Piper wasn't the only potential good Samaritan picking up a kit. Colton Myers, a part-time EMT, came to get a kit for his car. He brought his friend Lucas Hutchinson, who works at a gas station in Bellevue.

"Might as well be prepared," he said.

For another man in line, the opioid epidemic had struck closer to home.

"It's for a cousin's kid," the man said. "When it hit Facebook that they were giving away these kits, I asked my cousin if she needed one and she said 'yes.'"

Each person who took a kit was taught how to administer the drug.

"It's easy to use and very safe," Tisdale said. "If I used it on myself right now, it wouldn't hurt me a bit. It just takes away the opioid part of it and gets their breathing back."

After dialing 911, the intramuscular injection is administered with a syringe that can pierce heavy clothing. It should go into the upper arm, the thigh or the buttock, said Tisdale.

The effort is being funded with a $687,000 federal grant HSC received in August. The kits are being distributed to 38 counties in central and northwestern Illinois through the grant. The first distribution push was aimed at getting kits to area law enforcement and EMTs. Now the HSC is working to get them out to the general public.

Opioid overdoses continue to climb in Peoria. In the first half of 2017 the Fire Department administered Naloxone to 74 people. In the second half, 112 people received the drug, said Roland Tenley, battalion chief of EMS for the Peoria Fire Department. Those numbers only paint part of the picture, however, because Naloxone is administered by police and the public as well.

Tisdale was delighted to see steady traffic during the two-hour giveaway. Though she has been at area firehouses every week for the last several months, it was the first time she's been really busy.

"I guess it takes a while for the word to get out," she said.

For Tisdale, the effort is personal. She lost her son to an opioid overdose on Feb. 8, 2015. "It's what drove me to join the effort, to save lives," she said.

Next week she will be at it again. Free kits will available from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Central Fire House at 505 NE Monroe St.

Copyright 2018 Journal Star

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