FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Opioids have been an issue in the United States, Indiana, and Fort Wayne. In fact, last year Fort Wayne set a record for most overdose deaths in the city with 173.
This year the city has helped combat the issue by giving out free Narcan.
“What Narcan does is it actually kicks all of the opioids out of the opioid receptors in their brain and it allows that person to start breathing again,” said Kevin Hunter captain of FWPD’s narcotic division. “It basically saves their life.”
But getting Narcan into the hands of those who have overdosed is the hard part. It’s only effective if you have it on hand to treat someone who has overdosed.
That’s where The Fort Wayne Medical Society Alliance stepped in.
They teamed up with Kevin Hunter to put opioid rescue boxes in places of high need.
“We wanted to start putting some of these Narcan boxes out in the community,” said Tonya Hughes, the president of the Fort Wayne Medical Society Alliance. “With his (Hunter’s) help and with his team’s help, they helped us locate all the hotspots in Fort Wayne.”
The boxes have been used heavily since being introduced, and Hughes says they are empty every week.
“We restock them on a weekly basis, they have been going empty every week, sometimes quicker than seven days,” Hughes said.
The high usage has shown in the year-to-date overdose numbers too, according to Hunter.
“The effect of putting these all over the city has really been great,” said Hunter. “We are down 30% on non-fatal overdoses from this time last year.”
Hughes also addressed concerns about the Narcan being taken and sold again on the secondary market.
“The point is we want it out on the streets and if they’re trading it for something else, it’ll eventually get to the person who needs it,” Hughes said.
Ultimately, Hughes was thankful to Governor Eric Holcomb for approving the funds that have made the program possible.
“Governor Holcomb secured quite a few million dollars in grants, and it’s funneled through Overdose Lifeline who gets all of this free for us,” aids Hughes. “The kits, the boxes, nothing costs anything to us.”
The boxes contain 12 doses of Narcan each and can be found using this map.