Norwich city employees offered Narcan training

Norwich — When City Manager John Salomone learned recently that Otis Library Director Robert Farwell was trained through a city grant to administer the opioid overdose-reversal drug that saved a life, Salomone asked if the agency could get another grant and expand the training.

Norwich Youth and Family Services, a branch of Norwich Human Services, did just that. Within 24 hours of putting in the request, the agency received a $7,500 grant from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut to provide training and Narcan kits to 100 people in Norwich.

Angelo Callis, Youth and Family Services coordinator, said the agency is offering the training initially to every city department, Norwich Public Utilities and the city’s five volunteer fire departments. After that, the training could be offered to downtown businesses and nonprofit agencies not already trained to use the potentially life-saving drug.

Employees at St. Vincent de Paul Place soup kitchen and Reliance Health were trained through the first grant, Callis said, as was Farwell at Otis Library. The previous grant was awarded by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The city’s paid fire department and American Ambulance staffs already have been trained and stock the drug. Norwich police Chief Patrick Daley said police officers are not trained to use the drug and don’t carry it because American Ambulance and city fire officials respond to medical emergencies and often arrive before police.

Callis said he would like to place Narcan and have trained personnel in every city department that has contact with the public.

About 20 city employees have signed up for the training thus far, Callis said. The city manager’s office is coordinating the signups.

“I really was thinking it is a public health problem,” Salomone said, “and the more people who understand what can be done, the better. A lot of people come to this City Hall every day, and I thought it was a good idea, kind of like using the heart defibrillator.”

Norwich had 32 overdoses in 2017, by far leading the southeastern Connecticut region last year.

Salomone said employees will not be required or even urged to take the training.

“We’re making it available if they want to participate,” he said. “We’ll train people who have an interest in it. It will be something we hope we never have to use.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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