Shari Conner, a coalition coordinator for Change 4 the Kenai, adjusts a box of Narcan kits on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021 at Freedom House in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Shari Conner, a coalition coordinator for Change 4 the Kenai, adjusts a box of Narcan kits on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021 at Freedom House in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

‘Save someone’s life’

Narcan kits assembled at workshop on preventing opioid overdoses.

“Overdoses are preventable.”

That was the message Shari Conner, a coalition coordinator for Change 4 the Kenai, sought to impart during a community event held Thursday at Freedom House in Soldotna.

The event explained how to administer Narcan and included the assembly of free Narcan kits by attendees. Narcan is a brand name version of the medication naloxone that is used in the event of an opioid overdose. It comes in the form of a nasal spray.

The National Institutes of Health describes naloxone as an “opioid antagonist,” meaning it attaches to opioid receptors and reverses and blocks the effects of other opioids.

Conner, who also works at Central Peninsula Hospital, said to think of opioids like tiny golf balls and someone’s neuron receptors like golf tees. As long as the opioid is active, it sits on the “tee” of someone’s receptors. When the opioid dies, it falls off the receptor and new opioids stick on them.

“The more opioids that are on your receptors, the more slowed down your central nervous system is until it goes to sleep and doesn’t work any longer,” Conner said.

Naloxone knocks all the opioids off their receptor tees.

The drug only has a half-life of about 30 minutes, however. Once it starts dying, opioids rush to fill those tees back up. That’s why it’s so important for the person responding to the overdose to call 911.

But how can you tell if someone has overdosed? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of an opioid overdose include loss of consciousness, slow or shallow breathing, pale or blue skin, a limp body and constricted pupils, among others. The CDC instructs that if you find someone who you think is overdosing, call 911 immediately.

If the person is not responsive, Conner said to try and rouse them. That may include yelling the person’s name and administering a sternal rub, which involves rubbing your knuckles hard against the sternum of the person who is unresponsive. Then, move to naloxone. To administer Narcan, push the plunger into the nostril of the person who is unresponsive.

“They should immediately respond,” Conner said.

If they don’t, administer another dose. If they still do not respond, begin CPR and chest compressions, which should be administered to the beat of “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, Conner said.

Once someone regains consciousness, they may try to leave. Conner said it’s important that people do everything they can to stay with them, including following the person who has regained consciousness and telling emergency personnel where they are.

“The important part is to get those medical professionals there who … have lots more tools than you do to keep people alive,” Conner said.

If nothing else, Conner said, the information people should take away from the seminar is to call 911, always.

“Calling 911 helps save someone’s life,” Conner said.

One of the biggest hurdles in combating addiction, Conner said, is stigma. Normalizing conversations about things like Narcan kits, whether that’s at the doctor’s office when someone is being prescribed opioids or picking a kit up at the pharmacy, is one way to overcome that.

“Addiction is part of our nation if 80,000 people are dying from just opioid overdose,” she said.

The more normalized conversations about addiction and treatment become, Conner said, the less likely someone is to become a statistic.

Event attendees were invited to help assemble Narcan kits using supplies laid out on a table in the middle of the room following Conner’s presentation.

Included in each kit are two Narcan nasal sprays, a face shield to be used during CPR, a fentanyl test strip, two gloves and instructions on how to administer the nasal spray and test strip. Conner said they had the resources Thursday to assemble 500 kits, which she will be able to distribute throughout the community.

A 20-minute course explaining how to administer naloxone can be accessed at getnaloxonenow.org. More information about Change 4 the Kenai can be found at connectkenai.org.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Vehicles are unleaded at the Seward Harbor after being moved from Lowell Point on Sunday, May 22, 2022 in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Lowell Point barge services move 110-plus cars to Seward

The services were covered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and ended Monday

Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Watershed Forum receives matching grant from Conoco

The Kenai Watershed Forum was given a grant from ConocoPhillips to fund… Continue reading

A beach on the eastern side of Cook Inlet is photographed at Clam Gulch, Alaska, in June 2019. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is implementing new shellfish regulations in Cook Inlet. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Fish and Game closes East Cook Inlet razor clam fisheries

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the Cook Inlet… Continue reading

Anastasia Scollon (left) and Willow King (right) stand in The Goods + Sustainable Grocery and Where it’s At mindful food and drink on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sustainable shopping finds new home in Soldotna

The Collective used to operate out of Cook Inletkeeper’s Community Action Studio

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Most Read