HAUPPAUGE, NY – The Suffolk County Legislature recently approved legislation sponsored by Legislator Rudy Sunderman to provide greater accessibility to Narcan, a drug also known as naloxone that is used to save lives of individuals suffering from an overdose. Introductory Resolution 2051-2019, a Local Law to allow locations with automatic external defibrillators to maintain Narcan on site, was approved unanimously at the legislature’s Dec. 17 meeting.
“This legislation has the potential to save lives,” said Legislator Sunderman. “Since taking office, one of my main focuses is to combat the opioid epidemic. This is another tool we can utilize to help people start to turn their lives around for the better.”
Since assuming office in 2018, Legislator Sunderman has made it his goal to eradicate the opioid epidemic plaguing many families throughout the country though both education and treatment. As a first responder, Legislator Sunderman has witnessed the devastating impact this epidemic has on our community and families. He has met with family and friends who lost their loved ones to discuss ideas that would be beneficial in the fight against opioid abuse. One of these meetings was with a group known as The Joey Project, which comprises family members who have lost loved ones to this epidemic. A meeting with them sparked the idea to incorporate automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), which are used when someone goes into cardiac arrest, with Narcan.
The Joey Project was established with the goal of connecting people to resources and providing education, assistance and advocacy when needed for individuals and families suffering through an opioid crisis. The group believes in a more compassionate world that sees the person and the families behind the addiction. For more information on The Joey Project or to find out how you can help, visit their webpage at www.thejoeyproject.org.
“Naloxone is a crucial tool to save lives in this epidemic. You are not only giving someone the chance to breathe again, you are giving them a chance to enter recovery,” said Kristina Repperger, founder and chairwoman of The Joey Project. “Narcan kits being accessible in all areas that AEDs are located is a huge step in the right direction for our community and all of Suffolk County. Everyone knows where these are located within a facility. The fact that another lifesaving tool will be located right next to them, I have no doubt, will help someone save someone’s life. The Joey Project will continue to work on exploring opportunities to create a change in this epidemic, and we couldn’t be more thankful to Rudy for not only hearing our concerns but listening to them and creating an action plan with follow through.”
“An overdose is a symptom, not a diagnosis. A person in cardiac distress needs emergency care, as is a person unable to breathe. Knowing now that it is available in locations with AED’s gives me hope that our loved ones have another chance at life. My sister’s first overdose was in a McDonald’s parking lot, and Narcan was not available nearby. Her friend was able to drive her to the nearest hospital, my sister was revived by Narcan, and she entered long term treatment shortly after.” Stated Rosanne Yackel, Vice Chairwoman and Advocate with The Joey Project.
Sadly, I did lose my sister to an overdose in 2017 where Narcan was not accessible. Since her passing, I knew how crucial it was to become Narcan certified, and I now carry it on me at all times. After receiving an education, and certification on the facts about Narcan, I knew
our community needed more harm reduction. I reached out to my local legislature, Rudy Sunderman, and he agreed we needed to meet with other families and organizations to come up with solutions that can be put into action immediately.”
“When an AED is utilized, emergency personnel are still called, and the person is taken to the nearest hospital. Narcan will also be used in the same way. In my opinion, Narcan to overdose, is electric paddles to heart failure.”
This legislation specifically states that any establishment that currently maintains an AED machine within Suffolk County may also maintain up to two doses of Narcan to be used by individuals trained in its administration. Restaurants, gyms, and locations where many residents congregate often maintain AEDs. In the event that someone suffers from an overdose in the vicinity of where the AED machine is stored, Narcan may also be made available. In Suffolk County, AED machines are available at more than 800 locations, which will soon be eligible to opt into this program.
The Suffolk County Department of Health offers free Narcan training throughout the year, and groups can request a training for their organization. The training, which meets New York State Department of Health requirements, will teach participants to recognize an opioid overdose, administer intranasal naloxone, and take additional time-dependent steps while emergency medical service teams are in transit. Often these trainings can also incorporate education and treatment programs. Participants will receive a certificate of completion and an emergency resuscitation kit that includes the intranasal naloxone. To find out when the next training is taking place or to schedule a training for your organization, contact the Department of Health Services at 631-854-0000 or visit their webpage at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/HealthServices.