Overdose response training increases after rise in potent heroin
Training only takes about 15 minutes and each participant goes home with a free naloxone kit.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) –- The number of people who have overdosed in the region is startling -- hundreds in just a matter of days.
To make sure those numbers don’t become fatal statistics, the Louisville Health Department is kicking up awareness of overdose reversal medication by offering five training session in September as opposed to the typical two per month. Once the 15-minute training is complete with the Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition, participants take home a free naloxone kit.
While naloxone has been around for years, health officials say there are still many people who don't know it can save a life.
Naloxone training classes at the health department in Louisville typically have one or two participants, but on Thursday afternoon there were over a dozen in just one session.
“I'm here because of being personally affected by the opioid epidemic,” Kevin Lamb said as he finished his training.
The sudden change is likely due to a spike in overdoses from heroin laced with a toxic substance.
“We'll yes, I am afraid of it,” said Scott Duke, Director of Public Safety with the Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition. “Carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger than a dose of morphine.”
To put things into perspective, Carfentanil-laced heroin is being blamed from 27 overdoses in just four hours in Huntington, W.V., 174 overdoses across six days in the Cincinnati area, and closer to home, 14 occurred during the overnight hours in southern Indiana two weeks ago, and last week in Louisville, there were 28 overdoses.
“I feel like it was my responsibility to come and get educated,” Lamb said. “To possibly save a loved one's life after losing so many people already.”
Most of the people who overdosed in the four states were saved because of naloxone. For Lamb, he's known about the overdose reversal medication for months, but finally decided to attend a training session.
“The tipping point really was the more potent strains that we have been receiving into our community,” Lamb said.
Duke teaches some of the session and says every second counts when trying to keep the person's respiratory system and brain functioning with naloxone and rescue breathing.
“You generally only have four minutes if it’s completely shut down before brain damage occurs and death,” Duke said.
“The big step is coming forward and taking away that stigma and empowering yourself,” Lamb said. “To help save yourself and possibly a loved one.”
The next four naloxone trainings are Friday, Sept.r 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 1-4 p.m., Monday, Sept. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 29 from 3-6 p.m.
Training only takes about 15 minutes and is held at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness at 400 E. Gray Street.
More information about addiction, treatment, and naloxone can be found on the Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition website.
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