Fitchburg Health Department Hosts Narcan Training March 24

FITCHBURG – The Department of Health is hosting community training on Narcan and overdose prevention at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24 at the Legislation Building, 700 Main Street, the first in-person training since COVID-19 hit two years ago.

“We are excited to be hosting this in-person training again, as it allows for greater interaction with the trainer and also allows participants the opportunity to speak with local providers and obtain resources and support. “said Susan Christensen, substance abuse prevention coordinator. of the event, which is open to the community. “Narcan training is one of the strategies we employ to reduce overdose deaths and we know it saves lives.”

OD2A Street Outreach Worker Keith Barnaby leads a Fitchburg Health Department Narcan training held in February 2020 at Community Health Connections. (COURTESY OF FITCHBURG HEALTH DEPARTMENT)

She said Narcan “is an easy-to-administer nasal spray with no potential for abuse.”

“It reverses an overdose by blocking the effects of opioids,” she said. “It can restore normal breathing to someone whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of an opioid overdose. Participants will learn how to recognize an overdose and what to do if it occurs.

Local Fitchburg Interagency Team Treatment Providers will have information available during the training, including Restoration Recovery Center, GAAMHA Inc., Fitchburg Comprehensive Treatment Center, Community Action Health Center , the Worcester County Sheriff‘s Office, the Fitchburg Community Justice Support Center, and Overdose to Action or OD2A, a grant-funded Department of Health outreach program.

“Narcan will be distributed to all attendees,” Christensen said, adding that Narcan is provided by AIDS Project Worcester, which is the local overdose education and Narcan distribution site for the region. “They have been ongoing partners in our OD2A Street Outreach initiative, and we are grateful for their continued support in supplying our team with Narcan. Narcan saves lives. As long as someone is alive, there is a possibility of recovery.

OD2A Street Outreach worker Keith Barnaby, who will lead the training, echoed his sentiments saying “if they’re alive they have a chance of recovery”.

The Fitchburg Health Department is hosting community training on Narcan and overdose prevention March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Legislation Building at 700 Main Street, open to the public. (COURTESY OF FITCHBURG HEALTH DEPARTMENT)

“We’re trying to reduce the stigma associated with substance use, which can be accomplished by increasing people’s knowledge and understanding of substance use and overdose,” Christensen said. “Another important issue is recognizing that opioid abuse is not limited to a specific demographic group. An overdose can happen at any time and the more bystanders trained, the more lives can be saved.

Christensen said they “encourage anyone who hasn’t had training to attend.”

“It’s informal and informative, and Keith is both engaging and knowledgeable.”

She said the last in-person Narcan training the Health Department held for the community at large was on February 6, 2019, just before the initial coronavirus shutdown.

“We shared training videos on Facebook during the pandemic and also offered one-on-one training at various events such as Drug Take Back Days and overdose vigils,” Christensen said.

She said that in the past largest training, 80 people attended and they used three trainers.

“We expect good attendance as we haven’t held community training due to the pandemic,” Christensen said. “We encourage people who have been able to attend in the past and have expired Narcan to bring in expired sprays and they will be replaced.”

She said “with reports of fentanyl being present in a variety of substances, the potential for overdose is high.”

Fitchburg Health Department Narcan community training at Making Opportunity Count in 2018, led by a trainer from AIDS Project Worcester. (COURTESY OF FITCHBURG HEALTH DEPARTMENT)

“According to the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the number one driver of overdose deaths in the United States. Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, primarily illegally manufactured fentanyl, increased by 55.6% and appear to be the primary driver of the increase in fentanyl deaths according to dea.gov.

Mayor Stephen DiNatale said “continuing to educate and inform the community about effective overdose prevention strategies is an important activity that can only save lives.”

Chief health officer Stephen Curry said it was important to offer trainings like this.

“The Department of Health is pleased that we offer programs like this that serve to educate and save lives,” Curry said. “With the prevalence of fentanyl across the country, the ability to reverse the effects of an overdose is more important than ever.”

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