County task force expands Narcan training

March 17, 2019 GMT

The opioid task force of Kankakee County recently expanded its free Narcan training to community organizations, businesses owners and individuals in Kankakee, Grundy, Kendall and Iroquois counties. The training is provided by the Kankakee County Health Department.

The opioid task force Narcan (Naloxone) distribution program gives Narcan kits to law enforcement personnel, first responders, community organizations and individuals who may find themselves in a position to save the life of someone at risk of an opioid overdose.

“The goal is to save lives until they (opioid users) get to a point they are ready for help and get into treatment,” said Lindsay Wilson, Kankakee County Health Department health promotions coordinator. “Our focus is training people, specifically those who work in areas prone to encounter a person who may overdose, such as at motels and gas stations. Family members and friends of those addicted to opioids are also encouraged to complete training.”

During the one-hour training session, participants receive an overview of the opioid epidemic and the process of addiction. Opioids are natural or synthetic substances that act on the brain. The most common types of opioids are heroin, vicodin, oxycontin, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone.

In 2017, more than 73,000 people across the U.S. died from a drug overdose. Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 47,000 people in 2017 and 36 percent of those deaths involved prescription opioids. In 2017 in Kankakee County, there were 638 cases of opioid overdoses, and 56 were fatal. In 2018, the number of deaths related to overdose dropped to 29. Narcan was cited as one reason for the decrease in deaths.

Narcan is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications, said Wilson.

During training, participants receive a Narcan kit containing one dose of nasal Narcan, a pair of rubber gloves, a rescue breathing mask, a Narcan use quick guide and substance use and mental health resource guides.

All laypeople can be taught to recognize an overdose and administer Narcan during an overdose emergency, Wilson said.

The Drug Overdose Prevention program legislation passed in 2015 enabled nonmedical persons to administer Narcan to persons experiencing an opioid overdose. The law permits any person to become trained and to obtain, possess and administer Narcan to any person who appears to be suffering an opioid-related overdose. In addition, those administering Narcan are protected from civil liability.

The one-hour training includes reviewing signs of someone who is high and signs of an overdose. In the event of an opioid overdose, and once Narcan is administered, rescue breathing can be conducted until first responders arrive.

Anyone who administers Narcan is encouraged to fill out a reporting form included in the kit.

Life Compass Church in Kankakee recently hosted a training session and more than 75 attended. Two-thirds of those attending were not church members but rather those from across the community interested in the topic.

Ken Tueck of Life Compass Church commented, “A church should serve the community. We wanted to roll up our sleeves and say here are the issues people have, how can we help and make a difference. We are rooted in the community and the church building is strategically located to serve the community.”

Tueck added, “I don’t want to just be a building open on Sundays. We want to be a resource in our community. Opioid addiction is an issue many in our community are going through. This is a problem we have. Let’s figure out a way to work together and solve the problem together.”

Future sessions

The GFWC Women’s Club of Kankakee and Hippocrates Medical Clinic will host an impact of opioid misuse panel discussion and Narcan training on Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Civic Auditorium, Kankakee. There will be presentations by Kankakee County Coroner Bob Gessner, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe and Hippocrates Medical Clinic’s Dr. Terrill Applewhite. During the event, the opioid task force of Kankakee County will provide free overdose death prevention and Narcan training to participants.

The Kankakee County opioid task force was founded in 2012 by the Kankakee County Coroner, State’s Attorney, Sheriff’s Department, Riverside Healthcare and the Kankakee County Health Department as a response to the significant rise in opioid overdose deaths. This task force has evolved into a multicounty collaborative to address the opioid epidemic in Kankakee, Grundy, Iroquois and Kendall counties.

The Kankakee County Health Department received a State Targeted Response Grant through the Illinois Department of Public Health to offer the training. The first year of the grant focused on training law enforcement and first responders to administer Narcan.

This year, the grant, now called the State Opioid Response Grant, focuses on getting laypersons trained in administering Narcan.

For more information, visit stopoverdosedeath.org. For individual or group training, call 1-815-802-9442.