Berkley public safety officer Justin Childrey talks to attendees of a seminar Feb. 28 at the Berkley Public Library on how to look for signs of an opioid overdose and how to treat one using Narcan.

Berkley public safety officer Justin Childrey talks to attendees of a seminar Feb. 28 at the Berkley Public Library on how to look for signs of an opioid overdose and how to treat one using Narcan.

Photo by Mike Koury


Berkley library holds Narcan training seminar to fight opioid overdoses

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 5, 2019

 Attendees of a seminar at the Berkley Public Library were given a Narcan “Save a Life” kit and taught how to use the opioid overdose-fighting drug.

Attendees of a seminar at the Berkley Public Library were given a Narcan “Save a Life” kit and taught how to use the opioid overdose-fighting drug.

Photo by Mike Koury

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BERKLEY — The United States has been going through an opioid epidemic for quite some time, with thousands dying every year from prescribed or illegal narcotics.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 42,000 opioid overdoses in 2016, more than any other year on record and with an estimated 40 percent of them involving a prescribed opioid.

When a person overdoses on heroin or other opioids, emergency response personnel will administer naloxone, or Narcan, to fight the drugs by reversing the opiate effects.

Narcan is effective against opiates such as heroin, methadone, oxycontin, vicodin, percocet, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, lortab, norco, darvocet and duragesic.

Starting in November 2017, the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities and the Tri-Community Coalition have been holding training seminars for civilians to learn to look for symptoms of an opioid overdose and use a Narcan nasal spray to save people’s lives.

One of these seminars was held at the Berkley Public Library Feb. 28. Resident Jennifer Sines, who works at the Southfield Public Library, said she attended because she thought it would be a good idea to know how to use Narcan in case something ever happened. 

“It happens everywhere,” she said, noting that she might have reason to use it in her job, and that she can share the knowledge.

“If you can save somebody’s life with this quick seminar, why wouldn’t you do that?” she said.

The seminar was led by Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities Community Relations Manager Tracy Chirikas, Tri-Community Coalition Executive Director Judy Rubin and Berkley public safety officer Justin Childrey.

Childrey, who also is trained as a paramedic, taught the attendees what an opioid overdose is and the signs of one, including pinpoint pupils, no or shallow breathing, being limp, turning pale or blue, gurgling or snoring noises, and nodding out or falling asleep. People also might see drug paraphernalia or pill bottles lying around the immediate area.

Each person was given a “Save a Life” kit, which contained two doses of 4 milligram nasal Narcan, a CPR face shield and sterile gloves.

“What this does is it gives the parents, homeowners, whatever the case may be, an opportunity to be that first line of action to be able to help reverse (the overdose),” Childrey said. 

Since starting the seminars more than a year ago, Chirikas said the response from people wanting to become certified and learn how to use Narcan has been phenomenal. She cited how the Oakland County Medical Examiner reported in 2018 that overdose deaths are down 28 percent from 2017, which is the first decrease in deaths since 2008.

“We work in this every day, and it’s very depressing because you feel like nothing ever changes, but to get those kind of numbers in the downward movement, that was huge to me,” she said. “I think it’s working, but it’s not just any one entity. It’s all of us working together.”

For people who want to take the seminar and receive a Narcan kit, they can visit www.achcmi.org/events for scheduled training days. People also can call Chirikas for more information or to refill a Narcan kit at (248) 221-7101.

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