A coalition tackling opioid abuse in Del Norte County will begin distributing doses of Naloxone and training people how to administer the medication next week.

Using a grant from the California Department of Public Health, Rx Safe Del Norte has obtained nearly 300 doses of the medication that can block the effects of an opioid overdose and has made up 140 kits with two doses, said coalition facilitator Jermaine Brubaker.

The first training sessions will be held in Klamath and Smith River on Monday, Rx Safe Del Norte announced. Training sessions will also be held in multiple Crescent City locations, according to the schedule. Naloxone kits will be distributed at these training workshops, Brubaker said.

“We are really trying to get it out to the individuals, families and organizations that are really in contact with people,” she said. “They will be receiving Naloxone at the training. We wanted to make sure we got out in the more periphery areas as well as in Crescent City.”

An offshoot of a similar coalition focusing on opioid abuse in Humboldt County, the Del Norte group was created through Open Door Community Health Centers, Partnership HealthPlan of California, which administers Medi-Cal benefits locally and Aegis Treatment Centers, a statewide outfit that operates an opioid addiction treatment clinic in Eureka, according to Brubaker.

Brubaker said private grant dollars through Aegis is paying for a trainer to visit Del Norte to instruct people on administering Naloxone.

Sold under the brand name Narcan, among others, Naloxone is used to bring someone out of an opioid overdose long enough to get treatment, according to Brubaker. Being a licensed health care provider isn’t necessary to receive or administer the drug, she said.

Brubaker said the kits the coalition will distribute will include two Naloxone doses because sometimes it takes more than one dose to revive someone experiencing an overdose. In addition to administering Naloxone, which consists of a nasal spray, the training sessions will teach people how to check an airway and do rescue breaths. Attendees will be able to practice on a CPR dummy, Brubaker said, and the Naloxone kits will include a breathing barrier so people “can feel safe” giving a rescue breath.

When asked how many kits will be available at each training session, Brubaker encouraged people to RSVP to make sure space is available. She said she will rely on those RSVPs to determine how many kits she should bring, although she will bring about a dozen extra.

“If there’s not enough kits at a particular training, I’ll get somebody a kit,” Brubaker said.

The first training session, held in Klamath on Monday, will focus on teaching attendees how to train their own staff, Brubaker said. She noted that anyone taking opioids is at risk of an overdose. The population at highest risk of an overdose is the elderly, she said.

“Our largest population of those hospitalized and overdosing on opioids have prescriptions for opioids,” Brubaker said. “This isn’t needle users in the street. This is like grandma who’s at risk right now. We want to make sure everyone is safe.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, which operates the California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, Del Norte County experienced four deaths due to opioid-related overdoses in 2017. The crude mortality rate during 2017 for Del Norte County was 10.9 per 100,000 residents, according to the dashboard. This is a 50 percent increase from 2015, according to the department.

Statewide, California experienced 2,196 deaths due to opioid-related overdoses in 2017, according to the California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard. The annual crude mortality rate for the state was 5.6 per 100,000 residents, a 12 percent increase from 2015, according to the dashboard.

Naloxone training sessions will be held from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday in the Yurok Tribal Office, 190 Klamath Boulevard in Klamath; from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday at Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Village and Resort recreation hall, 12370 U.S. 101 in Smith River; from 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday at Coastal Connections, 475 K Street in Crescent City; from 10 a.m.-noon March 24 at the Del Norte Community Health Center, 550 E. Washington Boulevard in Crescent City; and from 10 a.m.-noon March 25 at the Del Norte Community Health Center, 550 E. Washington Boulevard in Crescent City.

To RSVP, call Brubaker at (707) 957-0561 or email rxsafedelnorte@gmail.com . For more information about Rx Safe Del Norte, visit rxsafedelnorte.org or www.facebook.com/RxSafeDelNorte.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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