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Fire District 3 to carry opioid overdose kits

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Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneJustin Bates, Fire District 3 Deputy Chief, says the department carries overdose kits in their emergency vehicles.

A Rogue Valley fire agency and overdose education nonprofit have teamed up in an effort to get opioid overdose-reversing medication into the hands of more people who need it.

That drug, Naloxone, now comes on board Jackson County Fire District No. 3 engines. It’s part of a kit that includes a face barrier for rescue breathing, if needed, along with information on how to administer the drug, the Good Samaritan Law and treatment resource information.

Max’s Mission, a nonprofit focused on overdose education and Naloxone distribution, provided the kits, obtained through grant funding from the Oregon Harm Reduction Supply Clearinghouse, a state health program that provides overdose prevention services and outreach across the state, said Max’s Mission founder Julia Pinsky.

“We thought it would be a wonderful thing to do, but it really came from Fire District 3, seeing there was a need,” said Pinsky, who founded Max’s Mission with her husband, David, after their son, Max, died of a heroin overdose in 2013.

The kits, called “Leave Behind Kits,” are intended to help firefighters and paramedics save lives.

Emergency crews responding to overdoses already come equipped to deal with the issue. Leave Behind Kits are a supplemental resource. When firefighters or paramedics respond to an overdose event and they deem the patient is at high risk for another one, they will leave a kit behind, just in case.

“We’re looking for opportunities where we can prevent an emergency from happening instead of just responding to it,” said District 3 Deputy Chief Justin Bates.

There is one kit per engine, and ones that are distributed are easily resupplied. Firefighters also train those they leave kits with on how to use Naloxone properly.

“Really, it’s a lot about the families of people who are addicted. That’s who is going to be using them is the families,” Bates said. “(We’re) just trying to provide them an opportunity to help save their loved one’s life, their son or daughter or mother or father.”

The kits came at a pertinent time. On Friday, Jackson County remained under an overdose alert, prompted by an overdose death and notable increases in emergency hospitalizations and opioid overdoses from late February to early March, county public health officials said.

The kits are also available for public use on the exterior of every Fire District 3 station and its administration building. Bates said he views the partnership as a valuable one and hopes it’s here to stay.

“Our desire is to get as much Naloxone as we can out into the community into people’s homes that are high risk for this type of thing,” Bates said.

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Fire District 3 will carry overdose kits in their emergency vehicles.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.