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Wilton residents get Narcan training, free overdose reversal kits

Jeffrey Santo has never witnessed an overdose before, but if that day ever comes, he will be prepared to act.

Santo was one of more than a dozen community members who attended a training session at Wilton Library on how to administer Narcan, the lifesaving drug that can be used in the event of overdose.

“This is just another tool in my toolbox,” said Santos. “It’s one of those things that you hope you never have to use, but if you ever find yourself in that situation you don’t want to be kicking yourself, saying, ‘I wish I took that class.’”

In addition to receiving free Narcan kits, distributed courtesy of Silver Hill Hospital, attendees learned to spot the signs of an overdose: shallow breathing, pallid skin, and nodding that eventually leads to a person’s collapse.

Attendees also learned that while Narcan can save lives, it does not negate the need for further medical attention. While the drug can revive those from the brink of death, its effects only last 30 to 90 minutes and users can slip back into an overdose.

That said, Narcan can be the difference between life and death, said Ellen Brezovsky, the director of community relations at Silver Hill Hospital, who led the Narcan training session

“Being able to revive somebody, to bring somebody back from an overdose gives them the opportunity to go to treatment, to get better and to start a different life, and if they were to die, they wouldn’t have that chance. We want to give people every chance possible,” said Brezovsky.

Last year alone, there were 917 overdose deaths in Connecticut — 94 percent of which involved opioids. Of those deaths, 426 included fentanyl, a synthetic opioid sometimes added to heroin for street sales that is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

The group most affected by opiate overdoses are non-Hispanic white men between the ages of 18-25 and 45-55, Brezovsky explained.

In Wilton, police have responded to seven overdose calls over the past three years in which opiate use was suspected, said Capt. Rob Cipolla, a police spokesman.

Over that same period, there have been zero deaths from opioid overdoses — a statistic for which police have Narcan partially to thank.

“Any tool, Narcan included, that has the potential to save lives is invaluable,” Cipolla said.
In January, a $1,000 donation from Wilton Woman’s Club allowed Wilton police to purchase naloxone, which is the generic name for drugs like Narcan and Evzio, for each police cruiser in the department’s fleet.
Since acquiring Narcan, Wilton police said that there have been four incidents where officers responded to an overdose in which the drug needed to be administered.

While some departments have balked at carrying Narcan or training the public in how to use it, Cipolla said the drug not only saves lives, but it also gives users another chance to get clean — a chance they would not have otherwise.

“While Narcan is extremely important in saving those individual’s lives in that specific moment in time, the hope is that it serves as the impetus for that individual to recognize their substance abuse issue and seek the professional help necessary to save their life in the long term,” Cipolla said.