County Park staff better equipped to respond to overdoses

Submitted by San Juan County.

Staff at San Juan County Parks are now better equipped to respond to opioid overdoses, thanks to a partnership with the Health & Community Services Department (HCS). Parks staff now have access to Naloxone, better known as NARCAN® Nasal Spray, which is used to treat overdoses.

“When we heard about this opportunity to serve in a new capacity, we wanted to jump on it,” said San Juan County’s Parks and Fair Director Brandon Cadwell. “It’s a function we hope to never need to use but want to be prepared.”

This project is funded by the National Opioid Settlement Fund which was established to help save lives and mitigate lifelong harm from opioid misuse. The nasal spray is an opioid antagonist to be used for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. Training for parks staff is scheduled for the upcoming visitor season and will educate employees on the safe and effective administration of the drug.

“Organizations that add this life-saving tool to their resources are making our community safer every day,” said Richard Uri, HCS Behavioral Health Specialist. “Thank you, Parks and Fair.”

The entire San Juan County Parks and Fairgrounds system is experiencing growing visitation rates from locals and visitors alike. With folks from local island communities and around the world, a wide array of tools to serve the public in moments of crisis is imperative. The NARCAN® will be kept with the AEDs (automated external defibrillators) and in the Park vehicles at the following locations:

On San Juan Island: San Juan County Fairgrounds, San Juan County Park

On Lopez Island: Odlin County Park

On Shaw Island: Shaw County Park

Data for 2021 indicates there were over 80,000 deaths nationally from opioid overdoses. Ready access to NARCAN® in San Juan County Parks will help staff be better prepared should they encounter someone experiencing an overdose. In the on-going effort to keep residents and visitors to San Juan County safe Dr. Frank James, Health Officer for San Juan County, notes that overdose survivors still need to see a healthcare provider immediately.

“We’re proud to be better equipped to meet the emergency needs of anyone until further help can arrive,” said Cadwell.

A special thank you to Josh Matlock the pharmacist at Friday Harbor Drug for placing the order for the NARCAN®, Richard Uri for making the arrangements to fund the purchase, and to all the Park staff who will have quick access to it should the need arise.