How to save a life: LIU students receive hands-on training in treating overdose victims

Life savers: Long Island University pharmacy students Daniel Romaikin, Amanda Ruvinsky, Kelly Sessa, David Strok, and Inderjeet Minhas are eager to learn how to stop an opioid overdose with the drug Narcan.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Call it a life-saving lesson.

Pharmacy students at a Downtown university learned how to save the life of someone who overdoses on opioids at a Monday event that offered the future white coats practical training on how to help people in the streets as well as from behind the counter, one attendee said.

“As pharmacists, our role in the community is expanding, so I think it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose and be able to help rather than rely on others,” said Daniel Romaikin, who is enrolled in Long Island University’s pharmacy-doctorate program.

The more than 200 students in attendance received small blue kits containing the life-saving drug known as Naloxone, or Narcan, which can reverse the deadly effects of overdosing on prescription opioids as well as fentanyl and heroin. And after first reading about the miracle medication in their textbooks, the soon-to-be pill providers welcomed the opportunity to receive professors’ and other public-health professionals’ instructions on how to administer it in the hands-on lesson, according to another participant.

“It’s good to have that sort of training on top of knowing about the drug,” said student Erica Carrasquillo, who lives in Gravesend. “I was always taught with emergency preparedness, if you know what do beforehand, it makes everything go so much smoother.”

Earlier this month, Mayor DeBlasio announced the city will funnel an additional $22 million into his so-called Healing NYC initiative to combat the opioid epidemic by increasing prevention programs as well as Naloxone distribution and education throughout the five boroughs, following the $38 million he previously allocated to the effort when he created it last year.

In 2016, roughly 1,075 of the 1,300 drug-overdose deaths in New York City involved opioid use — more than the number of fatalities from car crashes and murders that year combined — according to statistics from the mayor’s office.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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