Restaurant and bar employees are being trained on administering Narcan and identifying overdoses

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 7:33 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Out of Harm’s Reach is an organization dedicated to reducing accidental deaths and overdoses relating to the opioid epidemic. The head organizer, Casey Willey, has reached out to 20 establishments about training employees on administering Narcan.

Narcan is a nasal spray used in the event of an overdose. On average, one or two doses are enough to combat an overdose, but a recent incident downtown raised concern for the group. A total of six doses of Narcan were needed to revive the victim.

“The reason why we do it is there is a huge lack of harm reduction resources in Alachua County considering that it is one of the highest rating counties for opioid overdoses,” Willey said.

According to the American Medical Association, all 50 states have reported a spike or increase in opioid-related overdoses since the beginning of the pandemic.

In addition, traces of fentanyl, a strong opiate, have been found in drugs of all kinds. This has led the FDA to approve of a ‘double dose’ of Narcan on the market.

Willey said they were aware of the controversy surrounding the revival of opioid-users. However, Out of Harm’s Reach is dedicated to providing a judgement-free service out of respect to those struggling with addiction.

“A lot of the controversy comes from people seeing it as enabling. That’s just not what we believe in. We believe that everybody should have the opportunity to get to that point in their life where they are ready to stop using (opioids). And some people may not make that decision, but that’s not our place to say ‘you deserve to die because of that’. These deaths are preventable,” Willey explained.

They also said that it’s important to educate, especially in bars, clubs, and restaurants - as drugs and alcohol can go hand in hand.

Cry Baby’s, a bar in downtown Gainesville, asked Out of Harm’s Reach to do a demonstration and educational training on identifying a potential overdose.

Bar manager, Alex Girard says it’s important in the bar scene especially since you never know who’s going to walk in the door. He said it’s just as important for service industry workers to know about preventing an overdose like any other emergency situation.

“It’s potentially life saving, you know? Someone comes into your restaurant, experiences an overdose… it’s the same thing as having someone trained in CPR,” Girard said, “you have no idea where someone has been in the night or where they’re going to go afterwards. So you could be the first stop, or you could be the last stop in a day, and just having something on hand that can prevent a fatal overdose, it’s an easy thing to do.”

Out of Harm’s Reach offers free training, test strips, and Narcan to any establishment interested. The group is self-funded and hopes to apply for grants to expand their reach. To donate, a GoFundMe can be found on their website.

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