Library director puts newly stocked Narcan to use in Norwich

Norwich — When Executive Director Robert Farwell stocked Otis Library with an overdose-reversal drug last month, he did so hoping he wouldn’t have to use it at all, let alone a few weeks later.

Yet late Monday afternoon, when Farwell learned a man had overdosed in a library bathroom, Farwell sprang into action.

“Frankly my reaction was, 'All right, I know where the Narcan is, I know this situation has arisen and I don’t have time for a great deal of consideration about the facts involved,'” he said. “In that moment, you act as your brother or sister’s keeper. That’s really the only consideration.”

Farwell, who was trained on how to administer Narcan when he decided to bring it into the library, said the man responded to the drug and regained consciousness.

Farwell said he wanted Narcan on hand because overdoses are an increasingly prevalent problem in the city. He worked with Norwich Human Services to make it happen.

With 32 fatal overdoses in 2017, Norwich by far led the southeastern Connecticut region. Notably, one of those overdoses was blamed on carfentanil, an opioid drug intended to tranquilize large animals. It’s an estimated 100 times stronger than fentanyl, which already is up to 50 times stronger than heroin.

Having the antidote in the library could be especially helpful if someone is discovered a significant time after they overdose, Farwell said, or if first responders — whom he said generally respond with haste — for some reason are delayed.

“There are all sorts of variables and unknowns,” said Farwell, who for now is the only employee trained to use Narcan. “If the interim step of having something here would help make the difference between life or death, I wanted to make sure we were prepared to intervene.”

l.boyle@theday.com

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