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Wellness@Penn and Penn MERT hosted a Narcan administration training on Locust Walk on March 12 (Photo from VCU Capital News Service | CC BY-NC 2.0).

Wellness at Penn and Penn MERT hosted a Narcan administration training and resources table on Locust Walk on March 12. 

At the training table, Wellness at Penn and MERT officers offered brief Narcan administration directions to interested students, and distributed boxes of two single-dose nasal spray devices of Narcan. Narcan — an opioid overdose reversal drug that comes in the form of a nasal spray — is used to combat overdoses from drugs like fentanyl, heroin, or morphine. 

Narcan acts as an opioid antagonist, knocking the opioids an individual used off of brain receptors, and binding to these receptors itself to help reverse an overdose rapidly.

“It is a life-saving drug that can reverse any overdose on an opioid,” Trainor Macrone, the Substance Use Specialist for Wellness at Penn, told The Daily Pennsylvanian.

In the brief training, students were instructed to, upon encountering a person who they suspect to have just overdosed, check if the individual is awake, conscious, and breathing. After doing so, students were told to call 911, and administer the first dose of Narcan through the nostril.

Following this, students should administer CPR to rescue breathing — and administer the second dose of Narcan if the unconscious person has still not responded after two to five minutes while waiting for professional medical help to arrive.

Macrone also recommended exercising caution while administering Narcan.

“Somebody who is coming to may be sort of agitated … make sure you're taking care of yourself if you are administering Narcan,” Macrone said.

Macrone emphasized that Narcan is not dangerous to individuals who are not overdosing — making it safe to administer, even if one is unsure as to whether or not an individual is overdosing. 

Though this is the first Narcan training publicly hosted by Wellness at Penn and MERT, requestable trainings are available through the Substance Use, Prevention, Education, and Recovery program. Various substance-related trainings, including Narcan administration training, can be requested online. 

“We were noticing that students … want to be trained on Narcan, and they want Narcan, but they weren't requesting our training," Macrone said. "My idea was to bring it to them.”

Macrone's idea resulted in Wellness at Penn's partnership with MERT, and the public distribution and training event.

Assistant Secretary for Health for the United States Department of Health and Human Services Rachel Levine — who formerly served as Pennsylvania's physician general and signed a standing order allowing law enforcement officers to carry Narcan — spoke about the importance of Narcan at a policy seminar event at Penn earlier this year.

Levine said that Narcan is a critical tool for fighting the overdose crisis and should be made more accessible around college campuses. While Levine emphasized the importance of treatment, recovery, and prevention efforts for addiction, she said that Naloxone remains a critical tool for fighting the overdose crisis.

“I’ve always said that it’s impossible for someone to get into treatment and recovery if they are dead,” Levine said.