Naloxone training provided through in-person, virtual, drive-thru options

Group steps up training due to increased risks during pandemic

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published October 7, 2021

 Trained professionals with the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities are going out into the community and offering drive-thru Narcan training to educate the public on the use of the lifesaving medication.

Trained professionals with the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities are going out into the community and offering drive-thru Narcan training to educate the public on the use of the lifesaving medication.

Photo provided by Janine Krasicky Sadaj

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TROY — The Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities is encouraging many in Oakland County to get trained on the use of naloxone through in-person, virtual classes and drive-thru classes.

Naloxone, brand name Narcan, is a medication that can be administered to someone suffering from an opioid overdose, reversing the potentially deadly symptoms.

“It is the No. 1 product that will reverse the effects of an accidental overdose,” said Tracy Shirikas, the community relations manager for the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities. “The more community members that are trained to recognize the signs of what an overdose looks like, the better the chance that person has to survive that overdose. … We have multiple opportunities for individuals to take part in our Narcan training. One is a drive-thru training. Another is virtual training, which takes place on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at noon, and we are now getting back to in-person training.”

Lt. Paul Workman is in charge of emergency response preparedness for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. Having gone through the Alliance’s training and organized the training of his fellow deputies by the organization, Workman said it has made a difference in hundreds of lives.

“Every single deputy on the road patrol is trained on Narcan and carry it on their person,” he said. “It has been huge for us. At the rate of overdoses this gives us one more tool to save people’s lives while out on the road. We have had more than 500 deputies trained and issued Narcan. In 2020 alone we saved 67 lives. We started the program in 2015, and more than 400 lives were saved since then.”

Shirikas said her organization wanted to step up their training efforts due to increased risks during the pandemic last year.

“We started April 1 in 2020 as soon as the pandemic hit because we knew our high-risk population would be incredibly vulnerable, as would our elderly population,” she explained. “A lot of us had trouble remembering what day it is and what pill you might have taken or not taken while we have been living in isolation. That increased the risk.”

Isolation and having irregular schedules only exacerbates the numerous risk factors many people have to fall into addiction or suffer an opioid overdose, she added.

“We are all at risk of an accidental overdose,” said Shirikas. “This is because we as people don’t manage our pain very well. We will often take extra medication to treat our pain, but by doing that we increase our chances of accidentally triggering an accidental overdose.”

The drive-thru and virtual options for training people on Narcan use and recognizing the signs of an overdose were among the solutions the Alliance came up with to try and help people continue to learn even if they couldn’t make it to in-person or sit-down classes.

“The virtual and live training are a little over an hour long,” said Shirikas. “The drive-thru training is going through looking for the signs of an overdose, then we train them on how to administer, and we give them a pamphlet to keep on hand. It is only 10-20 minutes per vehicle. Multiple trainers are available, so we can train multiple vehicles at once. You can have multiple people in the vehicle at once. They also leave with the Narcan in hand. It’s the same with the in-person classes, and we mail them the Narcan after the virtual classes.”

Virtual classes and information on the in-person and drive-thru classes are available by going to www.achcmi.org and going to the events section.

“Right now we are using the video-based training,” said Workman. “It’s super easy to learn. Anyone can do it. Programs like the Alliance will give it to parents or organizations that think they might have someone there dealing with opioid addiction. It’s very easy to distribute it, and you can’t give people too much of it, so no one can have a negative reaction to it.”

Shirikas said that overdoses can happen anywhere at any time, even as people just go about their daily lives.

“We don’t typically think of overdoses until it directly affects our families. The only other way people see things is on TV, and that can be pretty brutal. When people work with us, the goal is to empower and equip people when these crises occur,” she said. “Someone was driving down Lapeer Road and they overdosed while they were driving. A citizen checked the car and called the paramedics. You can encounter someone when you go into the bathroom of a McDonald’s. You can encounter it almost anywhere.”

She went on to say that the Alliance is trying to get as many people trained as possible because it is making a very real difference.

“We did a live training session at Troy Daze. One gentleman walked up to us there and he wrote a very beautiful letter to use about what he learned there,” Shirikas said. “The two that are virtual are just on the website so people can register there. The drive-thru trainings are located depending on who coordinates us. We just did one at the Henry Ford Maplegrove Center, for example. The live trainings are on our calendar, and people can see where we’re doing them live. We are offering more private sessions for specific groups. We are doing one at West Bloomfield library on Nov. 11, for example. We just did Pontiac public schools’ staff. We have 21 coalitions that we directly fund. We welcome the opportunity to come into churches, hospitals, schools and so forth. We stick to Oakland County.”

“I would advise people to do this training,” added Workman. “You might already know someone dealing with opioid addiction or maybe someone in your life is addicted but not showing signs yet. The first time you might notice it might be the time you need this training and need Narcan.”

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