BUCKHANNON — On Thursday, September 8, Upshur County along with the other 54 counties in West Virginia hosted Save a Life/ Free Narcan Day. There were five mobile site locations set up in Upshur County alone and all stations were open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or until supplies ran out. Narcan training was available as well as Narcan and Fentanyl test strips.
Narcan is also known as Naloxone. This medication is an opioid antagonist meaning that it fights the action of opioid drugs. The way it works is by attaching to opioid receptors and reversing and blocking the effects of other opioids. It can quickly restore breathing that has either slowed or stopped because of an opioid overdose.
It is important to clarify that Narcan does not have an effect on someone who does not have opioids in their system and is not to be used as treatment for an opioid use disorder. Some common opioids include heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine and morphine.
Narcan can be delivered in a couple different ways. First responders and other formally trained individuals may administer Narcan by injection into muscle, vein or under the skin. The kits that were distributed during the Save a Life/ Free Narcan Day included a prepackaged nasal spray as this is the other way the life-saving medication can be delivered. The pre-packaged nasal spray is a device that is easier for loved ones and bystanders to use.
Missy Daugherty of Buckhannon serves as the Upshur County Ambassador for SOAR. SOAR W.Va. was created in October 2018, largely in response to the overwhelming opioid epidemic. SOAR WV uses a multi-tiered approach to substance use disorder, utilizing meetings, cultural events and community awareness to remove stigma and save lives. “I have supported SOAR for years but this is my first year as the Upshur County Ambassador,” said Daugherty. She also said, “This is the first for year for Upshur County to participate in Narcan Day. All 55 counties are participating this year which is also a first for the state of West Virginia.”
Daugherty shared that one of the things she was most looking forward to about the event was “educating people about Narcan and providing resources and information about addiction and recovery solutions. People cannot recover if they are dead.”
When asked what she would like people to know most about this initiative, Daugherty stated, “Narcan saves lives from drug addicts to seniors that have accidentally taken too much medication. Drug addicts are people too. Every addict did not start their path of addiction with the intention of being an addict. Also, every addict is someone’s loved one such as a mother, father, brother, sister, child or sibling.”
Daugherty shared that Narcan has been available to the public prior to Narcan Day. She said, “Daniel Cain actually started free Narcan about two to three years ago in Buckhannon. He is the O.G. of Free Narcan in Buckhannon. Since Daniel started there are now more opportunities. Community Care, Community Connections in Rock Cave and the local health department and pharmacies. Although at the pharmacy you are required to purchase it.”
When questioned if this will be an annual event, Daugherty responded, “Yes. Annual, as long as we have a drug problem, we will try to curtail that problem. We have received enormous support from the community this year. It has been a breath of fresh air. I think enough families have had this touch their lives and now they are ready to fight for their loved one’s life. They can’t sit back and watch, they want to act.”
Daugherty also explained that Narcan spray has two doses and each is four milligrams of the medication. She also elaborated how to administer it. “If you suspect overdose and the individual is not conscious or not responsive including signs such as blue lips, blue fingertips or cold to the touch…you want to place them on their back flat and tilt their head up, then you will place one shot of medication into one nostril followed by reciting your ABC’s, then place one shot of medication into the other nostril. After this you want to place the person in the rescue position which is by rolling them onto their side away from you. This is because when the person comes to they will be sick and may also be combative.”
Daugherty also said that she recommends calling 911. She explained that if the individual doesn’t respond to two doses, they may need two more doses in they have ingested fentanyl. She further noted that once an individual does come to, they have the choice if they want to go with EMS or not. It was also shared by Daugherty that Narcan is safe and you cannot get a buzz from or abuse Narcan. It is safe to use on anyone including children.
Upshur County Save a Life/Free Narcan Day was available at six locations including Community Care Connections in Rock Cave, Buckhannon Community Care, Opportunity House, Lazarus House, Blades and Fades, and Jawbone Park. Daugherty shared that over 600 kits were distributed. She exclaimed, “My heart is full. The Upshur Team handed out over 600 kits today! That’s 600 second chances. There is hope out there. There are people that care out there. To steal a quote from Heather Schneider “we take care of each other. “I cannot thank you all enough. The community, the volunteers, the team, the donations, my friends and family that have listened to me yack about this forever. It all paid off a little bit today.”
No worries if you missed the Save a Life/ Free Narcan Day. You can obtain a free kit and training by contacting Community Care Connections in Buckhannon. They are located at 34 North Kanawha Street and can be reached by phone at (304) 472-2250. Their regular hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., however on Fridays they currently operate under a temporary schedule of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.