About two dozen community members now know how to recognize an opioid overdose and are equipped to potentially save a life if one occurs.
September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month and Thursday's Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast featured Kay Martin and Cori Seilhamer, volunteer facilitators with Health Communities Partnership of Franklin County's Operation Save a Life program. Martin also is the community liaison to local police departments through Keystone Behavioral Health and Seilhamer is a mental health program specialist for Franklin and Fulton counties.
After learning about opioids, the signs of an overdose and how to respond, participants left with a bright green pouch containing Narcan, a brand of the naloxone nasal spray that can reverse an opioid overdose; gloves and mask for rescue breathing; and information pamphlets and cards.
Recognize and respond
Anyone can overdose if they are using opioids, even those prescribed by a health care professional, Martin explained.
People are at higher risk if they are using alone, have been sick, have lower tolerance because they haven't used in a while or don't know what they are taking.
With the help of a video, Martin outlined the key signs of an overdose:
The person is non-responsive.
The person is breathing slowly, unevenly or not at all.
Lips and nail beds are blue or purple.
There are gurgling or snoring sounds.
The response to an overdose:
Administer naloxone, of available.
Start rescue breathing.
If there is no response to the naloxone in two minutes, administer a second dose.
When the person starts breathing, put them on their side, the "recovery position," so fluids drain from the airway and they don't suffocate.
Stay with the person until help arrives.
'This is real'
"Addiction is hard to understand, but it's out there," Martin said. "We need to take the blinders off and be proactive. You can't save the world, but you can save one person."
"I'm glad I'm here, we all need to know about it," said Stan Flenner, a member of the chamber board and sales manager for Graphics Universal. "We don't want to deal with it, but it's more and more common. I am always on the road and never know what I am going to see."
Garon Gembe, president of Graphics Universal, said the information he heard needs to get out to high school and college kids. Prevention should always be the first message, but there will never be total prevention and there will be users.
"This is real," Gembe said. "Franklin County is not immune. We need to be aware and we need to be trained."
"We definitely have to stay current with what's in our community. Even if it's not our students, they have friends or family members," said Chris Reiber, an assistant principal at Greencastle-Antrim High School.
"Our kids are suffering," Reiber said, explaining they can be traumatized with fear for parents or family member who are addicted.
Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. agreed that addiction affects individuals, families, friends and the community.
In a proclamation for National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month and referring to its motto, he wrote, "Awareness and recovery is possible with strong support systems as we can 'Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose and Community' in reinforcing each individual's journey into wellness."
The Rev. Barbara Barry of Trinity Lutheran Church thinks her church should host both Operation Save a Life and a Healthy Communities Partnership's suicide prevention program.
"Churches are the front line in my opinion," Barry said. "Jesus said, 'Love one another as I have loved you.'"
For more information, call Healthy Communities Partnership at 717-264-1470 or email: