Boone County is one of three in Indiana implementing an opioid rapid response team to intervene in an overdose incident. As part of a new program through the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, citizens will be trained to give Narcan nasal spray to overdose victims.

“Clark County was the pilot,” Cris Henderson, a research specialist with IU’s Prevention Insights program who is heading up the grant, said. “(Clark County) increased the number of citizen responders cross trained in Naloxone administration and CPR. Then through the training process, hooked everyone that went through training to PulsePoint so you expanded your coverage of the number of people that might be responding to a potential overdose. And so, they saved five lives in the first year by citizen responders.”

Henderson said emergency responders in rural counties are not able to get to an overdose event quickly enough. Enlisting the help of neighbors or bystanders increases the chance of survival, according to the program literature.

This grant for $213,000 is specifically to train 220 residents ages 18 or older, living in either Boone or Hancock counties who are not medically trained or a first responder. Through the training, the citizen responders must also download the PulsePoint app which informs users of cardiac arrest events through the 911 system so they can rush to give CPR until first responders show up. Boone County bought a subscription to PulsePoint two years ago.

Henderson said the counties were chosen based on size of population and geography and 2018 data of the most overdose deaths in PulsePoint communities.

“There’s some recent data that is indicating what we’re seeing is a spike in overdoses during the pandemic,” they said. “So we’re at a juncture during COVID that we have more overdose deaths occurring than when the original (opioid) epidemic happened. That’s a tragic thing.”

Volunteers are trained through an online class that takes less than 20 minutes.

“You can take it any time,” Henderson said. “Our training walks everybody through the process of understanding what PulsePoint is and every step of downloading it to their phone.

“We help, through the training process, for people to understand when they get a PulsePoint notification that a cardiac event is happening, that it could also be an overdose event,” they said. “The PulsePoint app itself doesn’t have a separate opioid overdose notification.”

Citizen responders get a kit with two doses of Narcan which is administered in one nostril. Henderson said the researchers avoided the intramuscular injection form because they didn’t want it to be a barrier. The kit also includes instructions and where to get refills of the Naloxone, which is the Boone County Health Department.

“I’m trying to give people everything that they need to make sure that they can be in the right place at the right time,” Henderson said.

Recruitment is happening through Facebook and Instagram, but volunteers may also sign up online at prevention.iu.edu/projects/orrs/training.

This grant is for nine months. After that, Henderson said they will go for round 2 for two-year funding. They will also pilot it in two more communities. If all goes well, Henderson said they hope it will go national.

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