Vinita Firefighters Successfully Use Naloxone in Opioid Overdose
Narcan kit distributed by Grand Nation and Cherokee Nation at February training credited for helping save unresponsive patient.
Less than three months after the U.S. Surgeon General released a public health advisory urging more Americans to carry a lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, Vinita firefighters used that medication, Naloxone, to save a life.
On June 15, Vinita firefighters responded to a call about a female who had chewed a fentanyl patch. According to Vinita Fire Chief Kevin Wofford, when they arrived at the scene, firefighters found the patient unresponsive. After obtaining baseline vitals, they administered one dose of Narcan nasal spray, which is a brand name for naloxone.
Within minutes, Wofford said, the ambulance arrived and the EMTs helped get the patient into the ambulance where her symptoms abated.
“In about three minutes after they had administered the Narcan, she was becoming more responsive and they got a reversal,” Wofford said.
Wofford credits the Narcan nasal spray for helping save this patient and describes the medication as being “a big help” to area first responders as they deal with the growing crisis of opioid overdose deaths.
“It’s a great tool for firefighters and law enforcement to have with them in case they encounter a situation like this before the EMS arrives,” Wofford said. “Ideally, I would like to have a couple of Narcan kits on each truck.”
The Narcan nasal spray used in the June rescue was supplied to the Vinita Fire Department during a naloxone training hosted by Grand Nation, Inc., Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Prevention Programs and Restoring Lives Network earlier this year.
On Tuesday, Feb. 27, 100 representatives from Craig County area law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical services, as well as school administrators, teachers and coaches received naloxone training and were given free naloxone kits to use in emergency overdose situations.
The training and naloxone kits were supplied by Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health, which received a $1 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as part of the First Responder Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
“The first part of the grant is to get all ‘traditional’ first responders — police, fire departments, EMS — trained and supplied throughout the 14 counties of Cherokee Nation,” said Sam Bradshaw, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Prevention Programs manager. “Once we’ve done that, then we’ll come back around and offer the training and naloxone kits to ‘nontraditional’ first responders — doctor’s offices, nurses and other people in the community.”
Due to grant requirements, first responders can only receive the naloxone kits from Cherokee Nation if they undergo training. To date, naloxone trainings have been held in 12 Cherokee Nation counties and will soon be presented in the last two. Bradshaw said he hopes to be able to offer the ‘nontraditional’ first responder training toward the end of the year.
Anyone interested in attending an upcoming naloxone training and obtaining naloxone kits should contact Grand Nation at (918) 276-2192.
Grand Nation can also help first responders who, like the Vinita Fire Department, have used the naloxone kits they received at the training and would like to receive more.
“We will resupply naloxone kits that have been used,” Bradshaw said. “To get the replacement kits, first responders must fill out a form, which allows us to collect the data we need for the grant. They can fill out the form they were given with the naloxone kits or contact Grand Nation, which has the forms and will help them get the form filled out correctly so we can get more kits to the first responders who need them.”
Naloxone kits that aren’t used may also need to be resupplied, Bradshaw said.
“This is a four-year grant and, hopefully, not all of the kits will be needed,” said Bradshaw. “But even those who don’t ever use it, need to be aware that these kits will expire. So we’ll resupply if they’ve expired.”
While the naloxone training focuses on dealing with the consequences of opioid addiction, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Prevention Programs is also working to reduce prescription drug-related harm and increase awareness of the opioid epidemic. To learn more and find out how you can get involved, visit the ThinkSMART Oklahoma Facebook page or www.ThinkSMARTok.org.