City, eyeing need, offers more training in reversing opioid overdoses

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(Courtesy Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Sciences)
(Courtesy Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services)

Virginia Beach residents can learn how to respond to opioid overdoses this month in an ongoing training program offered by the City.

The free 90-minute session, scheduled for Aug. 16, is sponsored by the Virginia Beach Human Services Department. Under the REVIVE! program, as it is known, participants learn how to administer Naloxone, a prescription medication used to counteract opioid emergencies. The training comes as part of a monthly series that began in April, with the participation of the Virginia Beach Police Department, the Public Health Department and Emergency Medical Services.

“Naloxone saves lives when properly administered,” Dannette R. Smith, human service director, said in a release Monday.

Since the City’s program launched in April, more than 50 individuals have been trained in how to administer Naloxone, according to Adam Zubowsky, a spokesperson in the city manager’s office. Participants also learn first aid and CPR. At the end of the training, they each receive a prescription for Naloxone. The medication can be administered with a syringe or an auto-injector, which is like an epinephrine injection pen, also known as an EpiPen.

The classes will continue as long as there is a need for them in the community, Zubowsky said.

In 2015, Virginia Beach saw 135 documented heroin overdoses, which led to 34 deaths, according to the release.

The classes may be filling another need as well. The training has sparked conversations among those who attend, who can include family and friends affected by the addiction of someone they know, according to Zubowsky.

“It kind of turns into a support network,” Zubowsky said.

The Aug. 16 training will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Department of Emergency Medical Services, 477 Viking Dr., Suite 130. Participants must register in advance and registration is limited to 20 people. To register, call 757-385-0800.

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.