BSU Hosts Presentation On How To Respond To Opioid Crisis
“Opioid overdoses, they’re not a problem – they’re an epidemic. It’s out of control,” says Travis Carlson, the EMS training coordinator for Leech Lake.
We can all admit that we’ve been hearing a lot about overdoses in the news lately. The Leech Lake EMS team has been traveling throughout different communities in Minnesota informing the public about the epidemic and giving them the tools to curve overdoses. For this presentation at Bemidji State University, they teamed up with Face It TOGETHER Bemidji.
“This is costing our community millions and millions dollars a year and it doesn’t need to. Connection and community is how we battle this disease,” says Margot Kelsey, the executive director of Face It TOGETHER Bemidji.
“What we wanted to do was get together to start these trainings to make sure that community members will have a kit to be able to save people’s lives, because it could take 45 minutes, maybe an hour, for [an] ambulance to get there,” says Patricia Bittner, the methamphetamine coordinator for the Leech Lake Tribal Police.
The presentation went over the signs to look for in an overdose. They were:
- Being unresponsive or not waking up to calls or shaking
- Blue or gray lips and fingers
- Slow, shallow breathing or not breathing at all
- Small, pinpoint pupils
Then, the crowd was shown how to administer Narcan, which treats overdoses in emergency situations. They were even given free kits at the end of the presentation.
Carlson says, “The first thing people can do is admit that there’s an issue. There’s an epidemic going on. Know the people that you’re with, the people you’re around – especially the people in your homes.”
“We really need to look at how do we make our community better so that people have access to care if they need it, and then also what are we doing to create events in our community that aren’t just centered around alcohol or drugs,” says Kelsey.
Another big rule was if you see something, say something. That action could wind up saving someone’s loved one.
“I always tell people, if you’re really really sick and tired of drugs, then let’s start doing something about it,” says Bittner.
There are many Minnesota pharmacies that participate in programs that provide Narcan to the public. If you’d like a kit, be sure to ask your provider.