Life preservers: Ridge community board will train locals how to reverse opioid overdoses

Life preservers: Ridge community board will train locals how to reverse opioid overdoses
Photo by Trey Pentecost

It could be a life-saving lesson.

An organization that trains substance-abuse counselors will teach residents of Community Board 10 how to use a medication that reverses opioid overdoses at the board’s June 18 general meeting in Bay Ridge. The rep from the Resource Training and Counseling Center who will lead the training said that the Naloxone medication — also known as Narcan — can save lives.

“With opioids, if you can just get them breathing again, you can completely reverse the overdose with no long-term effects, and they have a true second chance at life,” said director of education and training Mike Buckley.

The training will take place during the first part of the June 18 meeting, starting at 7 pm at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center. Reps from the Resource Training and Counseling Center — which is also funding the training — will teach attendees how to administer the nasal spray, and also give each attendee a kit with the device that administers the spray, plus two liquid doses of the medication. Buckley said they will also teach locals more about opioids and their deadly effects.

“We go over what opioids are, how they work, and what it is that causes an overdose and what you’re doing in reversing it,” he said. “Some people don’t even realize that certain drugs are opioids, so we want them to be able to identify that stuff too.”

The medication starts reversing an overdose in about two to five minutes by blocking receptors in the brain for heroin, painkillers, and other opioids for 30 to 90 minutes, according to the state Department of Health. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical attention, but instead prevents overdoses from being fatal before emergency medical personnel arrive.

Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge), who pitched the idea to the community board, said that the training is valuable because it is quick, easy, and gives people the tools to potentially save lives.

“It’s pretty quick for what it is. It teaches people what the drug does, how it works, what to look for, and I think the whole point is to empower everyday people with the skills needed to administer this,” Brannan said.

The borough saw 251 deaths from opioid overdoses last year, and the 68th Precinct — which covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights — was one of the borough’s six precincts that had high overdose rates, according to District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. But the 68th Precinct and others included in the group — including Sunset Park’s 72nd Precinct, Coney Island’s 60th Precinct, and Bensonhurst’s 62nd Precinct — were also home to more than half of the borough’s more than 300 overdoses that were reversed by Naloxone.

The district manager of CB10 — which covers Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Fort Hamilton — said that officials decided the community board meeting would be the best place to offer the training since it would reach a large number of locals.

“We decided that doing it at the beginning of the board meeting is a good way to continue to spread the word about how important and lifesaving a tool it is,” said Josephine Beckmann.

Community Board 10 General Board Meeting at Fort Hamilton Senior Center (9941 Ft. Hamilton Parkway at 100th Street in Bay Ridge). June 18 at 7 pm.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.