Highland County now has four locations where free samples of naloxone, the drug also called Narcan that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, are available.
“We now have fixed bases of operation where people can walk up during business hours, register, and get trained about how to administer the drug,” said Creed Culbreath, health specialist with the Highland County Quick Response Team (QRT). “We’re working to get a couple 24/365 locations that never close where people could potentially get it anytime. …The team’s vision is to have naloxone training and distribution sites in every population center in the county.
The current locations where the drug is available are the Reach For Tomorrow office at 132 S. Washington St. in Greenfield, with the Corner Pharmacy at 259 Jefferson St. in Greenfield serving as a backup to that location; Downtown Drug at 119 S. High St. in Hillsboro; and the Highland County North Joint Fire and Ambulance District at 200 Monroe St. in Leesburg.
Culbreath said that in the next couple months there should also be locations open during business hours in Lynchburg and the Rocky Fork Lake area, and that the QRT is trying to establish a couple locations where the drug would be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If a person is not close to one of the current locations, Culbreath said they can call the QRT at 937-752-6002 or 937-752-8030 to schedule an appointment.
There is no cost for the kits, but those requesting them must register by signing their name, address and signature, then watch a video that lasts about 30 minutes explaining how to administer naloxone.
“One thing we’d like people to know is that this is an opportunity to initially reverse an opioid overdose, but it is a first stop,” Culbreath said. “The victim of the overdose needs the professional care of EMS personnel and a hospital emergency room. The reason for that is that these drugs, particularly fentanyl, are so strong and stay in the body so long that the first administration of naloxone could wear off and the victim could be in a life-threatening overdose situation without using any further drugs.”
He said EMS personnel have told him that sometimes the volume of naloxone they’ve had to use recently on people who have overdosed far exceeds the amount of naloxone provided in a single kit.
“While they should think of naloxone as a very, very good medicine, and it is, it should be considered first aid until emergency professionals can treat the victim,” Culbreath said.
He said a local physician that transmitted the QRTs naloxone protocols, “Would like people to know not to be afraid to administer naloxone to someone who is pregnant. However, notify the medical professionals that they have two people to care for — an expectant mother and an unborn baby — because naloxone can put the child into withdrawal, which would be a situation that would need additional medical care.”
It was at a meeting last spring at Adena Greenfield Medical Center, Culbreath said, when someone with the Ross County Post Overdose Response Team mentioned that the Highland County QRT could distribute naloxone. He said that since then QRT has distributed the drug when making home visits and at a recent event.
It is during home visits, Culbreath said, that QRT members often have the chance to encourage someone to seek treatment.
“That’s the primary purpose of the QRT — to give people those options,” Culbreath said. “We have several very good places in Highland County we can give people options to go to. Or we can facilitate treatment elsewhere if they feel that’s their best option.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.