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To curb opioid fatalities, ACR Health wants more businesses to take Narcan training

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
After completing Narcan training, Kevin Barker of TCGplayer, right, helped save someone who was having an overdose.

ACR Health in Syracuse is trying to get more businesses to complete training on how to administer Narcan, to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The training can help save lives, as one downtown business found out firsthand.

Kevin Barker is the safety officer for TCGplayer, an online store for collectible card games like Magic and Pokemon, located in the Galleries of Syracuse. He and others participated in Narcan training, hosted by ACR Health. A few months later, in February, that training was put to the test. A woman wandered into their shared space and found a chair. Barker said she was incapacitated, unresponsive and they decided to call 911.

“Thinking this might be an opioid overdose, I mentioned we had the Narcan," Barker said. "911 and our staff immediately agreed, this was the best situation, best time to use it.”

Barker administered a Narcan nasal spray.

“Maybe a minute, less than a minute, we started to notice her breathing coming back, her eyes opened, and she was able to understand what we were saying," Barker said. "And that's about the time the ambulance had arrived.”

The training is free and takes about an hour. Wil Murtaugh, executive director of ACR Health, said it is available so businesses can be educated and prepared to respond to an overdose if necessary.

“There’s been so many overdoses and they’ve been reported everywhere," Murtaugh said. "There’s no sense of where they’re happening, it’s just happening.”

Kevin Donovan of ACR Health, does the training.

"The truth with Narcan is you can't hurt anybody with it," Donovan said. "And it's really not hard, especially with the Narcan nasal spray that we have. It's not hard to learn how to do that. It's a training that can get done, and get done rather easily. It's showing that people are using it to save other people's lives."

In the past three years there have been more than 330 opiate-related deaths in Onondaga County.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.