UAA resident advisers become Alaska's first university student overdose responders

Published: Aug. 15, 2018 at 7:13 PM AKDT
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The State of Alaska is training its newest wave of emergency overdose responders.

For the first time in Alaska, everyday college students will be able to save lives with a few squirts of nasal spray, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention.

Students at the University of Alaska assembled Narcan kits Wednesday evening, complete with a nasal spray that distributes Naloxone to stop an overdose in its tracks.

"This is our first year doing Narcan packaging, which I think is really cool,” University of Alaska resident adviser Alex Jorgenson said. “Because I think anyone that's lived in Anchorage at least the past couple of years realizes there's been a huge uptick in opioid overdoses."

Andy Jones, Director of the DHSS Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention, is on a mission to reduce opioid deaths in Alaska.

He says it starts with empowering the public.

"Starting today, those individuals are going to go out and they're going to share the message, and train another, and another," Jones said.

And it doesn't stop there. Jones says the State of Alaska plans to distribute Narcan and train university students across Alaska.

"They are now an agent of change,” Jones said. “They are part of the response."

Jones helped the UAA students assemble the Narcan kits on Wednesday.

"You guys are empowered to actually have more than one,” he told them. “So if you want to distribute the kits, you can actually go out in the community and give these kits away too, which is awesome."

Jones says Narcan functions like a tourniquet, subduing the fatal effects of a drug overdose until emergency responders arrive.

He says he is seeing a decline in overdose trends since January, and he attributes that in large part to increased community awareness. But, he cautions to take that with a grain of salt as Alaska heads into its dark winter months.

You can learn more about Narcan