Co-sponsored by the offices of Pennsylvania State Senator Art Haywood and State Representative Chris Rabb, as well as the City of Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS), Chestnut Hill College hosted a Narcan Overdose Training session on campus on Jan. 7. The session was designed to educate the community on the dangers of substance misuse and the protocol for administering the life-saving medication Narcan to prevent fatal opioid overdoses.
Both Haywood and Rabb spoke at the beginning of the session about the seriousness of the opioid crisis. With more than 1,200 deaths in Philadelphia in 2017 attributed to opioid overdoses, they said that Narcan, an opioid overdose antidote, is going to prove a useful tool in reversing that trend.
“Substance abuse affects all walks of life and is an issue we are all too familiar with,” said Haywood. “Through this Narcan training, we can equip everyday people with necessary skills to potentially save someone’s life. If one more life is saved from an overdose, then we are moving in the right direction.”
Known by the generic name naloxone, Narcan has been used by medical professionals for more than 40 years to safely and successfully treat opioid overdoses. Act 139, signed into PA law in 2014, grants permission and immunity from prosecution to first responders and law enforcement to administer naloxone to individuals to reverse an overdose from opioids. Additionally, the “Good Samaritan” provision of Act 139 grants immunity from prosecution to individuals who are reporting or responding to an overdose.
Pam McClenton, DBHIDS Narcan training coordinator, led the session and demonstrated for the audience how to effectively administer Narcan to an individual experiencing an opioid overdose. She offered everyone in attendance the option of taking home a Narcan dosage package once they learned how to administer it properly; if they don’t use the package after two years, they may return it for a new one. Without the presence of opioids in the body, naloxone has little to no effect.
Other topics McClenton discussed at the training session included harm-reduction strategies, high-risk behaviors and PA’s Standing Order for Naloxone, which permits pharmacists to give naloxone to individuals without a prescription so they may help a person at risk of an overdose.
Acknowledging the gravity of the opioid crisis, Rabb told the audience that the Narcan training sessions will ultimately enable individuals to save lives.
“The truism is that knowledge is power,” Rabb said. “But how we use that power is just as important. This event will empower participants to help save lives through the proper administration of this anti-overdose treatment.”