Blanchet House reports using $1,000 worth of Narcan last week
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - After staff at a local nonprofit used $1,000 worth of Narcan in the last week to revive people who were overdosing, its Executive Director is calling for Narcan to be more affordable and accessible.
“Last week, our amazing staff here at Blanchet House revived three individuals who were overdosing on the street,” said Scott Kerman, Executive Director of Blanchet House. “We have Narcan at the ready here in our café. Everyone has been trained on how to use it safely and effectively. Three different times last week we got word that somebody was unresponsive and unconscious outside. They ran to it and were able to successfully revive all three of those individuals.”
Kerman says they called 911 each time it happened, with paramedics showing up all three times. At least one person was taken to the hospital.
“We are about changing lives here at Blanchet House,” said Kerman. “We can’t change a life if we don’t save a life. Unfortunately, a lot of our business lately has been about saving lives. Last week was unusual, to have three different times when we had to respond with Narcan, but it’s not rare. It happens just about every week, sometimes twice a week. We know there is a lot more fentanyl in the community right now, which means that the risk of overdose, it is so easy to overdose because you don’t know how much fentanyl you’re ingesting, that it’s become imperative that we have Narcan and we are ready to use it when we need it.”
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With more potent drugs readily available, Kerman says it sometimes takes more than a single dose of Narcan to revive someone.
“The form of methamphetamine, which we’ve seen for a couple of years now, has really profound psychotic effects on individuals who use it and those effects occur almost immediately, which is different than the kind of methamphetamine people may have been taking 3 to 5 years ago or more,” said Kerman. “And it’s fentanyl. Right now the fentanyl crisis is all throughout our community. It’s not just a houseless issue. We are certainly hoping, not only for ourselves, to get more access to Narcan and more affordable access, but it should be in schools, it should be in libraries, it should be in community organizations, it should be everywhere.”
Following our interview, Kerman reached out to tell us two more people needed to be revived on the sidewalk outside the nonprofit. He says Rapid Response was on site and called 911. He says at least one was taken to the hospital, but both seemed to be ok.
Kerman says he is supporting House Bills 2395 and 2397. HB2395 would improve access to Narcan. It passed the House earlier this month and has been sent to the Senate Committee on Health Care. HB2397 would have OHA study opioid overdose prevention and is currently in the House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care. Both bills are sponsored by State Representative Maxine Dexter, who represents Portland, including Old Town where Blanchet House is located.
“We are very optimistic because we know there is a lot of energy with the Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County Department of Health to make Narcan more accessible, make it more easily accessible, and more affordable,” said Kerman. “I’ve spoken with Representative Dexter about this, also Representative Reynolds. We are fortunate that we have a lot of local leaders who are also M.D.s. They are so attuned to this crisis and the tools that we need as nonprofits and really all first responders need to help save lives. At the end of the day what we want to do is we want to save a life so that we have the opportunity to hopefully change a life.”
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He says accessibility to Narcan, as well as the more potent drugs in our area should be a concern for everyone.
“Some people, they look at these harm reduction tools and they can have a very cynical view and think ‘well they are drug addicts, this is what they deserve’.,” said Kerman. “What I would say first to that is that human life is not that disposable. Again, if we can save a life, then we have the opportunity to change a life. Fentanyl is dangerous to all sorts of people. Recently in our community, a student died after taking something at a party and they had no idea it was fentanyl. This is something that should scare everyone. If you think it’s just drug addicts, that it’s just homeless people who are at risk, then you’re really not paying attention.”
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