Groups train community in opioid overdose reversal

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 15, 2018

 West Bloomfield Fire Department Deputy Fire Marshal Dave DeBoer talks about naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, at a community event aimed at teaching people how to properly administer the drug. The event was held at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital May 9.

West Bloomfield Fire Department Deputy Fire Marshal Dave DeBoer talks about naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, at a community event aimed at teaching people how to properly administer the drug. The event was held at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital May 9.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 A West Bloomfield Fire Department EMS staff member shows what one dose of naloxone looks like. Naloxone is sometimes administered in a brand-name device called Narcan.

A West Bloomfield Fire Department EMS staff member shows what one dose of naloxone looks like. Naloxone is sometimes administered in a brand-name device called Narcan.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WEST BLOOMFIELD — For those who want to have a hand in battling the opiate epidemic, local community groups teamed up to host an overdose reversal training session recently. 

The Greater West Bloomfield Community Coalition teamed up with Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities, Oakland County Families Against Narcotics and the West Bloomfield Fire Department to host a naloxone training workshop for community members. 

Naloxone — also known by a brand-name naloxone delivery device called Narcan — is a common overdose reversal drug administered through the nose to people who have overdosed on opioids. 

The May 9 training session was held in the demonstration kitchen of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital for 30 community members, at no cost to attendees. 

The ACHC received a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield/Blue Care Network, the BCBS Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Superior Health Foundation that allowed the community organization to train its 19 member community coalitions, including West Bloomfield’s, in how to properly administer the drug. 

“(The grant) allows us a unique opportunity to touch into our communities quite differently than we normally would,” said Tracy Chirikas, coordinator for ACHC Oakland County. “We feel it’s very important for all community members to be trained. ... People think an overdose just has to do with heroin, and that isn’t true. It simply could be a senior citizen who has taken too many medications.” 

Attendees were trained on the proper administration of nasal naloxone, which is just one of many ways to reverse an overdose but is one of the most common ways. 

Emergency medical service staff from the West Bloomfield Fire Department talked about the importance of CPR and how to properly perform it on someone who has overdosed. 

“To keep saying we have a new epidemic is not appropriate when we’ve known about the size and scope of this problem for a long time,” said WBFD Chief Greg Flynn. “We want to continue to do and try new things in an effort to create a more desirable outcome of saving lives and getting help for those who are struggling with addiction.” 

Every West Bloomfield ambulance has doses of naloxone available for use, and all WBFD employees are trained in how to administer naloxone. 

Each person who attended the training left with a “Save a Life” kit that includes two doses of nasal naloxone, gloves, a CPR mask and a resource guide for Oakland County so they can help the person who overdosed to take the next steps. 

“Timing is critical in this situation,” said Chirikas. “We want to lead them into treatment, so we need to plug them into resources so they get the help they need.” 

Chirikas said that the goal of administering naloxone is to prevent an overdose from happening.

 “It’s about harm reduction and it’s prevention. We want to prevent that overdose from happening,” she said. “We’re not immune here in Oakland County. We have our fair share of overdoses here.

“Despite our best efforts, we’re seeing an uptick (in overdoses), hence why we need this type of training. ... The more armed we are together, we feel we’re reducing the stigma associated with it so (community members) can be part of the solution.”

According to the Oakland County Health Division, 165 people died from opioid-related incidents in 2016. One of those deaths was in West Bloomfield, two were in Keego Harbor and one was in Walled Lake. Surrounding areas like White Lake, Commerce Township and Wolverine Lake also recorded deaths from opioids that year. 

For more information on opioids in Oakland County, visit Access Oakland at www.accessoakland.oakgov.com.