The opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate. We’ve brought you stories on how it impacts everyone in the community, despite race, gender, age, or socio-economic status. This opioid use can often times lead to overdose deaths. The faster treatment is given at the site of an overdose the better chance the person has to survive. But that usually doesn’t happen until emergency crews gets to the scene and those are valuable minutes. A training equips normal citizens to give a drug counteracting antidote like Narcan to try to curb the high rate of narcotic related deaths in the Stateline.
“It effects you, when you watch and you see and there’s nothing you can do”, Gina Smiley said.
After witnessing multiple overdoses, Gina Smiley decided to take matters into her own hands and learned how to be prepared. Hope Over Addiction and the Winnebago County Health Department partnered up to train classes on Narcan administration in an effort of curbing the opioid overdose deaths in the Stateline.
“I felt like the patient was suffering, because I wasn’t trained and I couldn’t give it. I had to wait. I called 911 and had to wait for them to get there”, said Jennifer Jacobs.
Smiley added, “you can be there to support but you don’t have anything that you can reverse it so and you watch people pass away, and they shouldn’t have to”.
The antidote reverses the effects of the opioids in the body and it now comes in the form of a nasal spray, making it easy to give to someone who is overdosing.
“I think is a good thing because it looks familiar and people who are not medical professionals who have allergies or whatever will be more comfortable using it”, said Jacobs.
The Centers for Disease Control released data this week that says fentanyl is the most abused drug in the nation. In Winnebago County, the number of drug related deaths has gone up since 2017.
“It’s everywhere around Rockford, you know what I mean. So, better to have it on hand so that you can help anyone that’s out there” Jacobs said.
She continues, “I’ll just carry one with me at all times, in my purse or in my lab coat at work”.
“At my work there’s probably three [Narcan trained administrators], but there’s not one on the night shift. So now at least there’ll be one on the night shift”, Smiley said.
The exact numbers on overdose related deaths for 2018 have not yet been released by Winnebago County Coroner, Bill Hintz.