CORNING, N.Y. (WETM) – New numbers obtained by WETM show reported opioid overdoses across Steuben County are on the rise. The following data is from the Steuben County Opioid Committee:
2020: 144 Overdoses, 9 Fatal
2021: 264 Overdoses, 15 Fatal
2022: 290 Overdoses, 12 Fatal
2023 to date: 35 Overdoses, 1 Fatal
The Opioid Committee has started distributing the first wall mounted Narcan emergency overdose boxes in Steuben County. Tuesday, Corning Community College installed the first 4 Narcan boxes on campus. The locations are: the Commons Building, the Classroom building, the Gym, and the dorms in Perry Hall. A 5th Narcan box will be installed at the college’s downtown Health Education building.
“So you would open a package and you just press here, there’s a little button. This goes into the nose and then press it hard, and it would shoot the spray, the medication into the person’s nose. It gets absorbed and works fairly quickly.” said Christine Bonarski, Health Coordinator for Corning Community College.
“Are we talking seconds in noticing the effects?” asked 18 news reporter Nick Dubina.
“In minutes” said Bonarski.
Michelle Logan is faculty member of the Chemical Dependency Program at Corning Community College. “It’s very important just like we have AEDs for heart attacks. We need to have overdose emergency kits in almost every building actually should be in every building, but we’re not there yet. But we’re working our way there. Because students experiment with things and they’re on their own and they don’t always make good decisions.” said Logan. She explained how Narcan can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“Narcan sits in the neurotransmitters of the brain where opioids typically run to. So that stops the opioid presence in the brain, which then make sure that the lungs and the heart don’t shut down and the brain doesn’t shut down. So it slows everything down. Which is why it’s very important to call 911 and get the person to a hospital to make sure they’re assessed properly.”
“Obviously, time is of the essence. What is the window of action when an overdose occurs? How quickly do we need to act?” asked 18 news reporter Nick Dubina.
“Ideally, it’s within four minutes, same as if it’s a heart attack or somebody shuts down for respiratory reasons.” said Logan. “Opioids will shut down the heart as well as a respiratory system. So we’re working on four minutes, certainly even if it’s a little over four minutes. We want Narcan to be administered and every effort to be made to save that person’s life.”
“Here on campus, have there been any incidents regarding opioid overdoses prior to Narcan being installed here? asked Dubina. “We had one overdose about five or six years ago. One student died and another student ended up going home to her parents and has not returned to campus as a result. So they were smoking pot, which was laced with an opioid.” said Logan.
The Narcan wall kits are the first of 21 that will be distributed in strategic locations Steuben County. They were obtained by the Steuben County Opioid Committee, and funded by the Steuben County department of health. Brandon Beuter is the Opioid Committee’s co-chair and an opioid overdose survivor.
“This is new to the area. It’s basically a program that we’re kind of mirroring off of other counties in New York state that have utilized this.” said Beuter. “We want to make it as normal as fire extinguishers and AEDs. Because people can’t reach recovery if they’re dead. As long as a person suffering from substance abuse disorder is still drawing breath, there’s an opportunity for recovery. So to give somebody a second chance at life by putting a unit on the wall for somebody to grab Narcan in an emergency situation. I mean, it’s kind of a no brainer, right? It’s saving a life.”
Corning Community College is continuing to educate both students and staff on the use of the Narcan Spray, with more training sessions scheduled for Wednesday.