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Westbrook to distribute free naloxone nasal spray

PARKERSBURG — Westbrook Health Services wants to place medication in the hands of people who may be able to use it to stop a fatal overdose.

The nonprofit behavioral health care provider will hand out free naloxone nasal spray (name brand, Narcan) at four locations in Wood County during its “Save a Life” Day event Monday.

“With the rise in opioid overdoses in Wood County, a free naloxone day is one way Westbrook can help the community save lives,” Westbrook President and CEO Kevin Trippett said in a news release. “Naloxone is a medicine that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose and buy valuable time for paramedics or emergency responders. Our hope is that individuals who have been revived with naloxone will then seek substance use treatment.”

The free naloxone will be distributed in a two-dose nasal spray from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at the following locations:

≤ St. Joseph Ambulance Service, 1619 St. Marys Ave., Parkersburg.

≤ Good Shepherd Church, 903 Charles St., Parkersburg.

≤ Walmart, 701 Grand Central Ave., Vienna.

≤ Powell’s Auto Repair, 904 Pike St., Parkersburg.

Individuals getting the naloxone will also receive training in its use and information about recovery resources.

Statistics from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources indicate more than three out of four fatal overdoses in the state in 2019 involved an opioid, the release said, adding that reports of opioid overdoses substantially increased in 2020.

Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said the city has seen a spike in overdoses in April and May the last two years.

“Westbrook is taking an initiative to hopefully minimize fatal overdoses and educate drug addicts or their families to prevent future tragedy,” he said.

Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens said this week that the 911 Center has received 87 overdose reports so far in 2021, with 11 confirmed fatalities.

“I firmly believe that there is a need for it,” he said of Westbrook’s event. But he added that “I don’t want people to have the false impression that if they’ve got it, everything will be fine.”

Crystal Caudill, peer coordinator for Westbrook, said it often takes more than one dose of Naloxone to revive someone suffering an overdose.

“That is why we encourage 911 to be called,” she said via email. “The doses of naloxone will help someone until emergency responders can get there, because sometimes the naloxone can wear off and the person can slip back into overdose. The average response time for EMS is five to seven minutes. One box of naloxone can help for the time being until EMS gets there.”

Naloxone is a medication that binds to opioid receptors in the body to reverse and block the effects of the drugs, according to information provided by Westbrook. It can quickly restore normal respiration for someone whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing on heroin or prescription opioid painkillers.

Since people who need naloxone are often unresponsive, Caudill said the goal of the program is to get it not only to active users but also into the hands of “the public, family, friends, loved ones.”

People given naloxone should be observed constantly until emergency care arrives and for at least two hours by medical personnel after the last dose to make sure breathing does not slow or stop, the release said. It can cause withdrawal symptoms that may be uncomfortable, but not life-threatening.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

Save a Life Day:

Westbrook Health Services will provide free doses of naloxone nasal spray (name brand Narcan) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at the following locations:

• St. Joseph Ambulance Service – 1619 St. Marys Ave., Parkersburg.

• Good Shepherd Church – 903 Charles St., Parkersburg.

• Walmart – 701 Grand Central Ave., Vienna.

• Powell’s Auto Repair – 904 Pike St., Parkersburg.

More information is available at www.westbrookhealth.org, on the Westbrook Facebook page or the “Save a Life” Day Facebook Event page.

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