Healthcare, Latest News, MaryWade Triplett

Learn to save a life (or two)

If you had the opportunity to learn the Heimlich maneuver to keep somebody from choking to death, you wouldn’t think twice, right?

If you were trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), you’d most likely administer it to someone who has lost consciousness.

And if you knew a way to help your child immediately recover if he or she got into the medicine cabinet and took an opioid prescription, you’d be thankful for that.

Ditto for any family members or friends who might have memory loss and problems gauging their correct prescription dosage.

On  Sept. 25, community members will have the opportunity to add another life-saving measure to their arsenal of skills during Save a Life Day.

It’s the same skill that could help a child who might get into an adult’s prescriptions or someone with memory issues who misjudges their dosage.

Or a complete stranger who, one day, might overcome substance use disorder and go on to lead a normal, maybe even an extraordinary, life.

Of course, I am talking about naloxone, a key component of the Monongalia County Quick Response Team’s (QRT) fight against overdose.

Sometimes also known as Narcan, one of the more common brands of this opiate-reversing drug, naloxone quickly brings someone out of an opioid overdose by kicking opioid molecules off receptors in the brain. It can be easily administered to someone in need as a nasal spray, such as Narcan, or as an injection. It can change a person’s status from unconsciousness to being wide awake within a few  minutes.

It’s a great skill to have in general, and especially in West Virginia and Monongalia County. West Virginia has been the top spot for opiate overdoses in the country, and the Morgantown area is one of the state’s hot spots.

The Monongalia County QRT has organized Save a Life Day, which will be held at 13 locations in the area from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 25. A group of QRT members and trained volunteers will be at each station to teach visitors how to administer naloxone, and free doses will be distributed.

The locations include five McDonald’s restaurants in Morgantown: Sabraton, Westover, Star City, Pierpont, Suncrest Towne Centre; the WVU Mountainlair Green and the WVU Student Rec Center; Pierpont Landing Pharmacy; Star City Fire & EMS; the 7-Eleven on Mason-Dixon Highway in Blacksville; Woodland United Methodist Church on the Mileground; Morgantown’s Farmers Market Pavilion; and Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church on Kingwood Pike.

Funded through grants obtained by Monongalia County Health Department, the QRT is a collaboration among first responders, public health, peer recovery coaches (PRCs) and other partners dedicated to providing immediate and longer-term help to those struggling with substance use disorder.

The goal is for PRCs to reach someone who has suffered an opioid overdose within 24 to 72 hours, whether at the hospital, at their home or by telephone. They work with individuals to get them services and, even if not right away, treatment, which sometimes requires time and the cultivation of a relationship before someone is ready.

Members of the Monongalia County QRT have been working for months to put together Save a Life Day and are looking forward to getting more community members involved in the fight against substance use disorder and the opportunity to make Monongalia County a better place to live for all of us.

So please consider participating in Save a Life Day. And check for updates on the Monongalia County Facebook page, @MonCoWVQRT.

Mary Wade Burnside can be reached at