Baltimore attacking overdose epidemic

Wednesday is International Overdose Awareness Day
Posted at 4:42 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 17:58:12-04
On Baltimore's Block, they deal in drugs of a different kind---naloxone, which is an antidote for opioids, and one of the city’s health educators, Nathan Fields, offers a simple message.
"If you save a life today, you can make a better choice tomorrow,” Fields said. “If you don't save a life today and that person dies, then there's no tomorrow."
Fatal overdoses from alcohol and drugs in the city skyrocketed to 393 last year, but by training people to administer naloxone, 400 others have been saved.
"We all trained over 14,000 people,” City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said. “As of last count, 14,000 people on how to save a life from overdose, which is enough to fill the Royal Farms Arena."
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said while officers initially balked at administering the life-saving drug, they have since witnessed its effectiveness.
"Since just last summer, now 350 Baltimore Police officers carry Naloxone, and we've used it 59 times and we've saved 57 lives," Davis said.
Back on the Block, Nathan Fields doesn't wait for people to approach his table for the crash course in saving people from addictions, he seeks them out, and in as little as 10 minutes, they can leave with the knowledge and the drug to bring people back from the brink of death.
"What we've noticed is we've trained people and they've brought other people back to trainings because they actually have situations where they came and said, 'Hey, somebody just overdosed down here last night.  Yes, I need that training,'” Fields said.
Just this week, the city also launched a Fentanyl Task Force that will draw from 20 city agencies to direct rapid response teams when there's a fatal overdose spike due to the synthetic opioid, which is 50 times stronger than heroin.


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