By Eden Laikin
Provided Free Overdose Reversal Kits to Participants
More than 500 average, non-medically trained Long Islanders, are now equipped, and ready, to save a life – thanks to a 90-minute training by Nassau County’s mental health and substance abuse officials.
This week alone, Nassau officials taught nearly 100 residents how to recognize and reverse the effects of an Opioid drug overdose, by administering an antidote called Naloxone or Narcan. All trainees were given free Narcan kits to use in an emergency, provided to the County by state health officials at no cost.
Opioids include Heroin, Oxycodone, Vicodin, Morphine and other often-abused prescription painkillers.
“Of course, we hope that nobody we’ve trained on how to use Narcan so far, ever has to use that knowledge,” Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano said. “But times and statistics have shown that the possibility is more likely than we’d like to think.”
Last year, Nassau became the first County in the state, outside of New York City, to adopt the state’s Overdose Prevention Training program. Nassau’s Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) with the County’s Police Ambulance Bureau as well as with Nassau’s volunteer fire service, have also recently been trained – as part of a 2-year state pilot program. Nassau County Police officers are currently being trained to administer Narcan as well.
On the average, nearly 1 Long Islander dies each day of a drug overdose. Although Nassau’s numbers of drug fatalities went down from 2011 to 2012, Suffolk’s numbers have increased.
The unique program that provides Narcan Training to individuals without medical training, is based on a 2006 state law that removes liability from a resident who administers Narcan in an attempt to save a person’s life. There have been no reported ill effects from the hundreds of thousands of times Narcan has been administered, and at least 10,000 overdose reversals have been reported nationwide.
Narcan training programs are successfully operating in at least 16 states across the nation.
Heroin and prescription painkillers depress the body’s respiratory system and can cause death if mixed with certain other kinds of drugs, or if ingested in too large amounts. Using the drug after a time of abstinence, increases the likelihood of a fatal overdose.
“My administration’s drug-prevention efforts focus primarily on Education, Awareness and Enforcement,” County Executive Mangano said. “Together with schools, community groups, treatment facilities and the public, we are waging a war on drugs. But, with too many young people falling victim to drug addiction, we must do all that we can to save their lives and put them on the road to recovery so that they can lead normal and productive lives.”
Legislator Gonsalves added, “Kids are dying from abuse of prescription painkillers far too often and we are stepping up our efforts to warn them of the dangers of misusing drugs, even those given to them by a doctor.”
To find out about upcoming Narcan trainings, call Felicia Schneberg at 516-227-7028 or visit www.heroinprevention.com.