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Threat Preparedness

It's almost time to learn how to Save a Life!

It's almost time to learn how to Save a Life!

Sep. 13, 2023

By Mary Wade Burnside

Recently, when I began looking through old press releases to get information on the Monongalia County Quick Response Team’s (QRT) first Save a Life Day, I was surprised to learn that we only started the naloxone event two years ago.

It seems like a lot longer, with thousands of doses distributed in the community and hopefully, many lives saved.

In September 2021, about 800 boxes of naloxone, or 1,600 doses, were given away at the first Save a Life Day.

This year, when we hold our fifth Save a Life Day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14 eight locations, from 1-4:30 p.m. at the Clay-Battelle Pharmacy in Blacksville and from 2-10 p.m. at the Friendship Community in Recovery, we will have at least 1,200 boxes — or 2,400 doses — to distribute.

Members of the QRT — a multi-agency group funded by grants obtained by Monongalia County Health Department that began meeting in spring 2019 to address opioid overdoses — are encouraged by the popularity of Save a Life Day events, as well as how so many different people from a variety of communities have embraced the opportunity to help their neighbors.

For those who might not understand just how vital naloxone is and why you might want to keep some in your home and/or with you as you attend events and run errands, now is a good time to cover some facts about this life-saving medication.

“Naloxone works by kicking the opioid receptors off the brain,” notes Joe Klass, a Monongalia County QRT member and also the chief of operations for MCHD Threat Preparedness program, in a video we created to educate the public about naloxone. It can be viewed on YouTube by searching “Monongalia County Health Department naloxone.”

Naloxone is administered easily as a nose spray and doesn’t harm the individual even if an opioid overdose didn’t occur.

You never know when you might be able to help someone. So it’s great to have naloxone, also known by the name brand Narcan, on hand when you can. It could be a stranger who needs a second (or third or fourth) chance in life. Or it could be someone you know.

For instance, even people who occasionally take recreational drugs are at risk for an opioid overdose. That’s because some drugs have been laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It’s a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To help combat this, fentanyl test strips will also be handed out during Save a Life Day.

Also, it’s not unheard of for someone with memory issues or even a child to get into prescription medication at home who then needs to be revived.

But to be clear, members of the Monongalia County QRT believe that everyone should have access to naloxone. And those experiencing substance misuse may need more than one chance. At our first Save a Life Day, one such individual liked to give the example of actor Robert Downey Jr., who struggled publicly with drugs before quitting and turning his life around. “I like to tell people that you could be naloxoning the next ‘Iron Man,’” he said.

This Save a Life Day will be a little different than the previous ones, because there will be more than 300 locations as part of Appalachia Save a Life Day, with an anticipated 30,000 doses available for distribution.

In Monongalia County, in addition to providing naloxone and fentanyl at all 10 locations, HIV testing will be offered at the Morgantown Art Party site.

Other locations include the McDonald’s restaurants in Sabraton, Star City, Westover and Suncrest; the WVU Mountainlair and the WVU Health Science Campus, as well as the Clay-Battelle Pharmacy and the Friendship Community in Recovery at 277 Don Knotts Blvd.

We'll also have a van traveling to a few sites in the area, starting at T&S Rentals at 1430 Van Voorhis Road at 10:30 a.m.

And please feel free to learn more about naloxone and Save a Life Day.

Hope to see you on Thursday!

Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.





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