Will County expands Narcan training
New bystander training available to any organization or individual in the county
As the opioid epidemic continues to affect the entire nation, Will County is working to expand its harm reduction efforts by providing naloxone training to any organization or individual. Naloxone is a powerful antidote that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“A dose of naloxone can save the life of someone who has overdosed on opiates,” said Dr. Kathleen Burke, director of the Office of Substance Use Initiatives, in the office of Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “In my training, I teach people to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose and how to properly administer naloxone.”
Recently, Burke trained more than 30 taxi drivers and dispatchers at the Telecab Taxi service after being contacted by a representative of the company. According to John Buchanan, general manager with Telecab, offering this training to their drivers was a ‘practical idea’.
“I have read about the opioid epidemic and realize it touches every community,” Buchanan
said. “We have operated in Joliet for 20 years and we are dedicated to this community. Our drivers are responsible for our customers’ safety while they are in our vehicles. The drivers are trained in CPR so it makes sense for them to be trained on this life saving method as well.
“In addition, we have learned that some of our employees have personal experiences in losing
loved ones to drug overdose. If we have a chance to save a life, we are going to do it.”
In 2015, Burke began naloxone training for law enforcement personnel in all 26 police departments and the Sheriff’s office in Will County. Additionally, Burke trained more than 200 library personnel in three of the county’s largest library districts - Fountaindale, Three Rivers, and Joliet. To date, Burke has trained more than 800 people and distributed 1,000 boxes of naloxone.
“I am very proud of Kathleen and the work she has done to expand this training in Will County,” said Walsh. “This opioid crisis is affecting all parts of the state and the entire country. Kathleen has been working very hard to educate the public and help save lives.”
The United States Surgeon General is encouraging more Americans to carry naloxone. An estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. struggle with opioid use disorder. In 2016, more than 42,000 people died from opioid overdose nationwide, which is more than fatalities from car accidents.
Burke said she received her training from the Chicago Recovery Alliance, founded by Dan Biggs who died unexpectedly on Tuesday. Burke said Biggs was a “real pioneer” in expanding the availability of naloxone and addiction education.
“Our goal is to provide naloxone training to any group or organization in Will County,” she said.
The hour long training session includes information about addiction, overdose risk factors and hands-on naloxone instruction. Upon completing the training, each participant will also receive two free doses of naloxone.
Burke will be providing a training session at the New Lenox International Overdose Awareness Day event at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 30 at the New Lenox Village Hall, 1 Veterans Parkway in New Lenox. The public is invited to participate in this training. For more information, contact Burke at (815) 774-7486.