Librarians pitch in to help combat opioid epidemic

Narcan is a nasal spray given to someone overdosing on drugs to help them breath again.

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Local librarians are now pitching in to help combat the opioid epidemic.

On Wednesday, a training class was held to show them what to do if someone at a library is experiencing a drug overdose.

According to the city, last year 166 people in New Orleans died from a drug overdose. That's double the number of overdose deaths that happened in 2015. New Orleans is on track for similar numbers this year, which is why some took the time to learn how to help.

"As a community we all need to come together and work towards helping with this sort of thing," said children's librarian, Cole Sheehy.

New Orleans librarians took action, learning how to help save a life.

"Because we work with the public and this is a public health crisis," said librarian Carolyn Vidmer.

They were taught how to administer Narcan, a nasal spray given to help someone overdosing on drugs, breathe again. Dr. Joseph Kanter, the New Orleans Director of Health, taught the class.

"Every family has someone they know being touched by the opioid epidemic," he said. "We want to save as many lives as possible so we want everyone in the community that could come in contact with someone who's overdosing to have Narcan available to them and to know how to use it."

The drug, approved by the FDA in 2015, is typically given by law enforcement, fire, and medical professionals. However locally, with the number of drug overdose deaths surpassing the rate of homicides, some see the benefits of learning how to do it themselves. Which is why New Orleans Public Library Staff staff reached out to the city for training.

"I was surprised to learn just how safe it is," said Sheehy.

"Not that we ever want to be put in that situation, but it's good for us to be able to add another dimension to helping the community," said Amanda Fallis.

"Being one of the only really open, public spaces, the library is probably going to encounter people in overdosing situations. Since we're going to be the people that are there, it's ideal for us to learn."

And as each concern was addressed, those at the training say it was time well spent.

"I think it shows that we're passionate about serving our community and helping the people that we work with," said Vidmer.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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