Saving Lives


On a weekend this fall, a man living at the Thurman Brisben Center collapsed in the bathroom. An employee of the homeless shelter noticed a needle near the unconscious man and knew she was witnessing a heroin overdose. Fortunately, she and the rest of the staff had been trained to reverse opioid overdoses just one month earlier.

As soon as she spied the needle, the woman called for the shelter’s director, and Kim Lally rushed to the bathroom, a dose of naloxone in her hand. They went into action quickly—one staff member called 911, while another administered the powerful antidote to opioid overdoses. The man briefly responded to the naloxone, but quickly fell unconscious. Staff members gave another dose, and then a police officer arrived and administered a third dose of naloxone before taking the man to the emergency department.

Less than a week later, the man returned to the homeless shelter to thank staff for saving his life, Lally said. She credited the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board for giving Thurman Brisben employees the knowledge and skills they needed to rescue their client. RACSB’s REVIVE! Training taught the staff to recognize an overdose and to administer naloxone.

Lally and her staff members requested the training after attending a community forum on the opioid epidemic in the spring. RACSB’s prevention staff brought the 90-minute training to the homeless shelter.

Here to Help

More than 1,400 people died from drug overdoses last year in Virginia. For the past few years, more people have died each year from drug overdoses than car accidents. To reverse this trend, RACSB began offering free opioid overdose reversal training to the community in May.

“Recovery from opioid dependence is complex,“ RACSB Executive Director Jane Yaun said. “We have trained over 100 individuals in the use of Narcan to offer another chance to someone who has overdosed. Our agency offers medication-assisted treatment couple with intensive supports to assist people struggling with their dependence.“

RACSB has teamed up with the Rappahannock Area Health District to provide free naloxone for individuals who complete the training.

The next training will be held Jan. 27 in King George County

 

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