NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — As the city begins to enjoy a “return to normal,” fentanyl overdoses in the city are also on the rise.
In these emergencies, seconds count, which is why the city is now training utilities to recognize and respond to an overdose.
“It’s a sad reality every day that our public safety team, whether it’s Ems fires or bystanders, sometimes have to administer naloxone to people who have overdosed,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno.
According to city health director Dr. Jennifer Avegno, teams are responding to fentanyl overdoses three to four times a day across the city.
“It’s really about the heartbreaking part of it all. And I think we all know someone who is affected by someone else using drugs,” Avegno said.
This is going to be a long and multi-layered approach to tackling this epidemic. But Avegno says the first step, she says, is to train not just Ems, but also the public and public-facing workers to recognize and respond to naloxone overdoses.
“We reached out to some of our hotel and restaurant partners in the bar industries to say, listen, you might be the first line of defense, right?” said Avègno.
“Our guys are on the ground every day providing service every day in one of the most walkable corridors and one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city,” said Ross Bourgeois.
They are the ones who help the very popular French market to open up day after day, so the Ministry of Health has trained and equipped them with Narcan.
Director Ross Bourgeois said he was surprised at how quickly, after this training, his officers had to save a life.
“In one instance, within an hour of this training, they got a call…it was one of our ground patrol security officers assigned to the French market who got the call from you know, d ‘a person in distress on the pedestrian street along St Peter Street outside Jackson Square and responded, assessed the situation, administered Narcan and you know, moments later subject regained consciousness,’ a said Bourgeois.
It wasn’t the last time either. Bourgeois says a different officer, a different day, and a different shift helped save another life.
“I think it speaks to the fact that it’s a problem, it’s a problem in our community,” Bourgeois said.
However, it will take more than two responding officers to make a difference.
“So we want our citizens to know what to do whenever they come across someone unresponsive, because those are the minutes that save people’s lives,” Avegno said.
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