The increased use of heroin on college campuses around New York has prompted a quick response from the state. Twelve state universities including Geneseo have received the drug Naloxone, or Narcan, from the state. This is in part a response to student deaths on SUNY campuses due to apparent heroin overdoses. The fairly new drug is extremely effective in reversing the lethal effects of a heroin overdose, and its side effects when used on a person who hasn’t actually overdosed are minute.
Junior Alp Bilenler is an emergency medical technician for Geneseo First Response. Bilenler said that the state has given more than $25,000 to schools for the drug and its coinciding training.
“If they don’t need it, it won’t harm them. But if they do, it will save their life,” Bilenler said.
The drug has been proven effective by state police in Suffolk County, Long Island where roughly 170 people were administered the drug during an overdose and lived.
“These ‘heroin kits,’ as they are being called, are actually intranasal Narcan, which comes in a little syringe and are very easy to use,” Bilelner said. “It’s essentially the antidote to heroin or any opiate. You spray it up the patient’s nose and it works but they go into straight withdrawal.”
New York State introduced Naloxone into its Basic Life Support protocol in 2014, which means that EMT basics will be able to use it as soon as their departments start adapting it. As of right now, only Geneseo’s University Police Department has the drug and has been trained to administer it.
“Before this, we would have to wait for the paramedics to show up, restart the heart and introduce the patient to an IV,” Bilenler said. “Now, those who respond the fastest will be able to quickly and easily save the patient’s life.”
Regarding Naloxone, the Monroe-Livingston Regional Emergency Medical Services Standards of Care for 2014 states, “If unresponsive with potential opiate overdose and respiratory depression: Naloxone (Narcan) 2mg IN with 1mg given in each nare. May repeat once after five minutes if no clinical response.”
“I think it’s a good idea, but it seems more reactive. I don’t see why they wouldn’t crack down on heroin use,” junior Josh Domboski said. Domboski added that he hopes that it won’t lead people to feel like heroin is ok to use, now that there is a “quick fix.”
“I just really hope people don’t see this as an opportunity to feel like, ‘Hey, heroin is ok now that I have a smaller chance of dying’ because it’s already a big problem in western New York and doesn’t need to get worse,” he said.
While UPD is the only force on campus that has access to the drug right now, GFR and the Geneseo Fire Department should have access once the sufficient paperwork is filled out.
CORRECTION: the accompanying photo and caption have been removed from an earlier version of the story. It may have implied an incorrect fact regarding the death of a Geneseo student.