As the opioid epidemic continues to affect the nation, Will County has chosen to provide naloxone training to any organization or individual.
Naloxone is a powerful antidote that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“A dose of naloxone can save the life of someone who has overdosed on opiates,” Dr. Kathleen Burke, director of the Office of Substance Use Initiatives, said in a news release from Will County Executive Larry Walsh’s office. “In my training, I teach people to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose and how to properly administer naloxone.”
Recently, Burke trained more than 30 taxi drivers and dispatchers at the Telecab Taxi service after a representative of the company contacted her. Offering this training to drivers was a “practical idea,” Telecab general manager John Buchanan said. “In addition, we have learned that some of our employees have personal experiences in losing loved ones to drug overdose. If we have a chance to save a life, we are going to do it.”
“I have read about the opioid epidemic and realizes it touches every community,” Buchanan said. “We have operated in Joliet for 20 years, and we are dedicated to this community. Our drivers are responsible for our customers’ safety while they are in our vehicles. The drivers are trained in CPR, so it makes sense for them to be trained on this life-saving method, as well.”
In 2015, Burke began naloxone training for law enforcement personnel in all 26 police departments and the sheriff’s office. Additionally, Burke trained more than 200 library personnel in three of the county’s largest library districts – Fountaindale, Three Rivers and Joliet. To date, Burke has trained more than 800 people and distributed 1,000 boxes of naloxone.
“I am very proud of Kathleen and the work she has done to expand this training in Will County,” Walsh said. “This opioid crisis is affecting all parts of the state and the entire country. Kathleen has been working very hard to educate the public and help save lives.”
The U.S. Surgeon General is encouraging more Americans to carry naloxone. An estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. struggle with opioid use disorder. In 2016, more than 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses nationwide, according to the release.
The hourlong training session includes information about addiction, overdose risk factors and hands-on naloxone instruction.
Burke will be providing a training session at the New Lenox International Overdose Awareness Day event at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the New Lenox Village Hall, 1 Veterans Parkway in New Lenox.
The public is invited to participate in this training. For information, call Burke at 815-774-7486.