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Businesses in Nashville lack opioid overdose reversal drug training

Companies urge Narcan training
Posted at 4:34 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 19:58:39-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While first responders are equipped to administer a lifesaving drug in times of emergency, community advocates say businesses should be just as prepared.

The Nashville Prevention Partnership is a local agency that helps reduce and prevent the harms of substance abuse, which includes training on how to use naloxone. Also known by its brand name Narcan, the nasal spray reverses the effects of an opioid overdose almost instantly, saving lives. NPP Executive Director DeWayne Holman told NewsChannel 5 that since the program began in October 2017, the organization gave nearly 5,000 doses of Narcan. Of the number, about 2,800 were given to treatment centers and nonprofit organizations, and 1,426 to law enforcement and firefighters.

However, Holman says participation from local businesses is lacking since overdoses can happen anywhere. In total, only 173 businesses received the free training to use Narcan.

"We have a lot of businesses responding to this but not nearly enough at this point," Holman said. "What we're trying to do is to make sure everybody in Nashville understands the symptoms and signs of an overdose, and what to do in case of an emergency."

In 2018, there were 329 drug overdoses in Davidson County, according to the Metro Nashville Public Health Department, mostly involving opioids. There was not immediate data on exactly where all of the overdoses occurred, but experts in the field suggest employees in areas with a cluster of businesses like Broadway should be aware of Narcan.

Holman said his team is working on a strategy to urge businesses to receive training. It already trained the corporate team at Dollar General and hopes to do the same for the staff at the retail stores.

"If we can reach out to a corporation that has multiple locations and maybe get the corporate level to say this is important and to include in the HR process," Holman added.

Peter Kurland is a business agent for Local 492, a union that represents workers in film and television sets. The company allowed members to undergo Narcan training after someone overdosed on set last year. The training initially began with four members but grew 15 at one ponit.

"It became apparent that we should have that training for as many people who want to take it. It's really simple, and if you could save somebody's life with a flick of your finger why would you not?" Kurland said.

Kurland's wife also had someone overdose in a car behind her business in west Nashville. Because of the training, they now know what to do.

NPP wants to have at least 20 active patnerships with different businesses by the end of the year. It also works with the Tennessee Department of Mental Healthy & Substance Abuse Services which provided 35,000 units of Narcan across the state including Davidson County.

To learn more, contact the Nashville Prevention Partnership at (615) 393-6980.