Thursday evening community members gathered at the Wicker Park Social Center in Highland to take part in a Narcan Training event. Coordinated by the North Township Trustee’s Office, the event focused on teaching attendees how to properly administer Narcan, a substance that can revive someone from an opioid overdose by restoring breathing.
Rosalba Quintanilla, North Township Trustee Community Development Coordinator, said the state of Indiana has one of the highest average prescription rates for opioids, from which the majority of addictions stem. She hosted this event in the hopes of educating the community about the prominence of opioids in the region.
“It’s such an epidemic that it hits everybody-- from doctors, law enforcement, teachers, social workers, mental health counselors, families, friends, and addicts themselves,” Quintanilla said. “This Narcan training is such a special opportunity for me to be able to facilitate and guide people on how to save lives in these situations.”
The Narcan training program is a direct response to the opioid crisis in Northwest Indiana and aims to arm the public with a useful tool they can use to help anyone they may encounter who may be overdosing. The event included presentations by Catherine Spann, Director of Programs at The Salvation Army, and Stephanie Shostok, Community Relations Coordinator at Recovery Works in Merrillville.
“I have 54 beds available for people who want to recover, that shouldn’t be the case,” Spann said. “A lot of times people don’t now that we’re there as a resource for them, so tonight is all about education and letting people know what’s available for them.”
“Being a treatment facility here in Indiana, it’s important for us to connect those that need help to whatever resources they need,” Shostok said. “Anyone seeking Narcan is obviously wanting to prepare for a dangerous situation, likely involving someone they know. Taking that preventative measure is huge, and we want to be here to support and help them in any way we can.”
The event was open to the public, 100 people were registered to attend. The audience included a wide range of community members, from medical health professionals to friends and family with loved ones fighting addiction, each connected to the fight against the opioid epidemic in their own way.
“I see people come in under the influence, and try to figure out ways to make sure people get the help they need,” said Patient Care Technician John Duha. “Nights like this are all about knowledge, the more we know, the more we can do to hopefully save peoples’ lives.”
While some attendees saw the benefits of Narcan from a professional view, others had a more personal connection.
“I know somebody who actually overdosed,” said Portage resident Rhonda S., school nurse for the city of Hammond. “They actually had Narcan at the time, and were able to save his life.”
Aaron’s Law, passed in 2015, allows Indiana residents to be able to carry Narcan, also known as naloxone, on them in the hopes that this will allow them to potentially save someone’s life in the time before an ambulance arrives to transport them to the hospital.
“It goes far beyond just that moment,” Quintanilla continued. “After Narcan is administered the road to recovery involves a lot of factors, but Narcan gives people that chance to get to those things.”
Thursday evening was the third in a series of Narcan training events that will continue to be held in the months to come; Quintanilla says the next step is to take the program into local schools.
“Right now, we’re working on getting into local high schools and colleges,” Quintanilla explained. “In particular we’re working with getting to the medical students at the Career Center in Hammond.”
To find out more information on Narcan training, contact North Township at (219)932-2530 Ext. 329.
5947 Hohman Avenue, Hammond, IN 46320
Visit Frank J. Mrvan, North Township Trustee / Wicker Memorial Park Partner Profile