Trying to save lives, free Narcan training organized by city leaders

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A small group of community members in Minneapolis can now make a big impact after learning how to save a life.

A volunteer with the Steve Rummler HOPE Network led the naloxone training Wednesday night at the East Phillips Community Center. Naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is a life-saving medicine used during a drug overdose to reverse its effects.

A volunteer with the Steve Rummler HOPE Network leads a naloxone training Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, at the East Phillips Community Center in Minneapolis. (KSTP/Ben Henry)

Minneapolis City Council member Jason Chavez, who represents Ward 9, organized the training. Chavez says the overdose issue is very bad.

“Too many lives have been lost, especially in this community,” Chavez said, adding about the naloxone training: “We have to use every tool in our toolbox, and this is one solution to that.

The most recent data from the state health department shows a sharp spike in opioid overdose deaths in recent years, nearly doubling from 343 in 2018 to 678 in 2020.

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In early October, the city of Minneapolis put out an alert to report there were 55 overdoses and three deaths in the first week of the month.

It’s so grim that health officials say naloxone training should become as common as learning CPR.

“Narcan is invaluable when it comes to placing it around the community,” said Dr. Alta DeRoo, chief medical officer with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Hazelden Betty Ford is an industry leader in addiction recovery — DeRoo said there is Narcan throughout their facilities and they train staff frequently.

“I’d like to see it in schools. I would love to see it in governments, in offices. I carry mine with me all the time, just in case there was an opportunity to use it,” DeRoo said.

The community members from Wednesday night went home with an overdose response naloxone kit. Information on how to get a free kit and join a training can be found on the Steve Rummler HOPE Network’s website.

This image shows an overdose response naloxone kit. (Courtesy of Steve Rummler HOPE Network)