By Eden Laikin
Two more lawmakers joined the hundreds of citizens now trained and equipped to save the life of someone overdosing on Heroin or prescription pain pills – and they also received practical information on how to help that person find treatment and recovery.
Nassau County Legislature’s Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves and State Senator Jack Martins learned how to administer Narcan, in an emergency, at two different trainings hosted by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.
Gonsalves was one of more than 100 residents who attended an event she co-hosted at the East Meadow Public Library on May 28. An event at the Hicksville Community Center on June 5, which Martins co-hosted and participated in, also drew just over 100 people.
As per County Executive Mangano’s directive, the events – which are run by officials from his office, and Nassau’s Office of Mental Health & Chemical Dependency – expand on the Narcan training. Representatives from drug treatment court, local substance abuse and mental health treatment agencies and 12-step recovery groups speak about the services they provide and then answer questions from the audience.
Trainees leave the 2-hour events with a free Intranasal Narcan kit as well as a certificate of completion of the training and a prescription for the Narcan medication. They also leave with the ability to recognize an overdose and attempt simple rescue breathing if necessary and to spot signs that their own family members could be abusing Opioids.
Narcan, or Naloxone, can reverse the potentially fatal effects of an Opioid overdose, by attaching itself to the Opioid receptors in the brain – essentially “knocking off” the Opioid from the receptor and blocking it from returning. It’s administered through a simple nasal spray. While Narcan has been in emergency rooms and on ambulances for decades, it’s a 2006 state law that allows trainees with no prior medical experience to administer it in an emergency without liability. In late 2012, County Executive Mangano became the first County Executive in the state to have his county agency state certified as an overdose prevention and responder program so that County officials could train people in, equip them with, the lifesaving antidote.
Meanwhile, Mangano reminded residents to always call 911, immediately, if someone appears to be overdosing – before attempting to administer the Narcan – despite any fear of getting in trouble for minor drug possession charges or for using illegal drugs.
“Don’t run, call 911,” Mangano said. “You won’t get in trouble simply for using drugs with someone if you call for help for that person in an emergency. It can be a matter of life and death. We’ve already lost too many people to this scourge. If we can save some lives we’d be giving those people a second chance at life – and recovery.”