Philly offers training on overdose rescues

Packages containing a nasal inhalant

Narcan delivers naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The City of Philadelphia is holding several free trainings on using naloxone, a drug that can save someone’s life during an opioid overdose.

The rate of overdose deaths in the city continues to increase, said Roland Lamb, deputy commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.

“Sadly to say, we will probably exceed 1,200 deaths this year,” he said.

Last year, that number was closer to 900.

Beginning this week, the city is training the general public on how to use the overdose reversal drug naloxone to combat those growing numbers.

At four trainings, from now through the winter, health workers will teach hundreds of people how to administer naloxone, a drug that helps someone start breathing again during an overdose. It’s often administered by Narcan, a device that delivers the life-saving drug in a nasal spray.

“If we train people in an overdose reversal, then you know we also add to the number of opportunities we have to save lives,” said Lamb.

Last year, trainings targeted employees in his department; this year, they’re available to everyone. “This year we felt that it was much more important for us to go beyond the status of our department and reach out to the community even more so with these trainings we had,” he says.

The department will also give away about 150 Narcan kits to service providers who come to the training. Members of the general public can get a prescription for Narcan, but not a free kit.

The city also has increased the number of treatment slots available, including those that use medications to lessen symptoms or prevent people from getting high if they do use again.

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