LYNN — Interim Health Director M.J. Duffy Alexander administered Narcan nasal spray to a man overdosing on the steps of City Hall Tuesday evening, saving his life.
When Duffy Alexander was notified that someone was unconscious outside, she grabbed multiple items including an ice pack, a blood-pressure cuff, and Narcan.
“You never know what you’re going to get, somebody could’ve fallen and hit their head. It’s very hot out, is somebody dehydrated and that’s why they passed out?” Duffy Alexander said.
When she got to the victim, she evaluated the scene and gave him a dose of Narcan. If the man had not been overdosing and did not have any opioids in his system, the Narcan would not have hurt him, she emphasized.
After the first dose, the man was starting to wake up a bit but was still not fully alert, she said.
“So you kind of wait a few minutes and see, and so it was probably five minutes and then I just gave him a second [dose], and that really woke him up,” Duffy Alexander said.
911 was called and first responders arrived to further assist the victim.
Mayor Jared Nicholson said that when he was notified of the overdose, he was concerned for the man’s wellbeing and grateful for the City Hall staff members that were able to help the victim.
“It’s incredibly important that we have Narcan available. Narcan saves lives, and we’re really grateful that we have the Public Health Department not only to administer it, but also to distribute it and to train people in its use,” Nicholson said.
The Narcan Duffy Alexander used came from the free Narcan kits that are available for everyone at City Hall.
The kits contain two doses of four-milligram naloxone nasal spray, fentanyl test strips, a mouth guard in case mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is necessary, instructions on how to use Narcan, and other educational resources.
The nasal spray is simple to use, Duffy Alexander said.
“You’ve got to be careful too, because sometimes when people wake up, they thrash and sometimes they can vomit,” she added.
The Public Health Department’s free Narcan kit program started earlier this year. As part of the initiative, the department also provides training sessions on how to use the kit. Anyone can walk in whenever City Hall is open to get a kit and training session.
According to Opioid Prevention Specialist Candice McClory, the program is “no questions asked.”
Additionally, when incidents like Tuesday’s overdose happen, they are covered by the Good Samaritan Law, meaning anyone who provides or obtains assistance for a victim of a crime will not be held liable.
“As long as you don’t have warrants or like a significant amount of drugs on you, or any weapons of course, then nothing can happen to you,” she said.
McClory added that since the program started, many people have picked up free kits.
“A lot of them aren’t even in active use, they are just concerned citizens,” McClory said.
The overdose Tuesday came soon after the city announced that there was a recent week-long period in which four victims, ranging in age from 14 to 20 years old, overdosed on opioids.
Duffy Alexander said the city has seen a rise in overdoses as of late. McClory said that there may be a few reasons for that.
“The heat, the weather, people are not staying hydrated, those all increase risks of overdoses. It could be drug trends, there could be different changes in the drugs happening right now,” McClory said.
Another possible reason is lack of education about overdoses.
“There are tools out there and ways to avoid overdoses, and people just don’t have those particular tools,” McClory said. “So I think that’s a big part of it, the lack of education on harm reduction and how to stay safe when you’re in active use.”
That is why the Public Health Department is trying to increase outreach on what resources are available to prevent overdoses, she said.
“I’m just really glad that we have the tools here and the education, the knowledge,” McClory said.
Duffy Alexander stressed that the Narcan kits and training sessions are free and available from the Public Health Department in room 103 of City Hall.
“We want this to be a welcoming space so people feel comfortable to come in,” she said. “We give sharps dispensers, we have the Narcan… test kits, Band Aids, masks. And if people come in and they have questions about anything, if we don’t know the answer, we’ll try to find it for them.”