Among a sea of vendors selling delicious food, fresh produce, and beautiful art, one stand at the Patchogue Farmers’ Market offered the most precious good of all—free Narcan training and support. The Suffolk County Police Department has teamed up with parents who have lost a child to overdose or fentanyl poisoning to offer Narcan training and support at farmers’ markets.
This new outreach program is spearheaded by deputy police commissioner Risco Mention-Lewis and Carole Trottere, a mother who lost her son to fentanyl poisoning. The program serves to arm people with the training to save lives, while also normalizing the conversation of addiction—an issue that touches many Long Island families. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 6, attendees of the Patchogue Farmers’ Market were able to receive vital Narcan training and engage in much-needed conversations about addiction.
Lori Carbonaro, whose son died almost 10 years ago from an opioid overdose, emphasized the importance for everyone to receive proper drug education.
“This is a great idea that Carole originally came up with that we love doing because we are meeting people where they are in their daily lives,” shared Carbonaro. “They are out, not expecting this, but they see us and stop.”
Narcan reverses the effects of severe opioid intoxication, including unconsciousness and barely breathing, which can occur from both medicinal and illicit opioid use. If it happens that opioid intoxication is not the reason someone is unconscious or barely breathing, the Narcan will have no effect on the individual and will not hurt them. With fentanyl overdose being the No. 1 cause of death for people ages 18 to 45 within the United States, conversations about substance abuse and mental health issues are more important now than ever.
“Opiate intoxications and substance abuse issues are a mental health emergency,” explained Suffolk County Police EMS officer, Jason Byron. “The police department recognizes that we cannot arrest ourselves out of the situation. We have to provide the best possible care to save the individual’s life, as well as get them the further medical attention as necessary.”
Since Narcan is only effective for 30 to 90 minutes, Byron emphasized the importance of calling 911 in an emergency situation. The 911 Immunity Law protects individuals that call 911 for medical aid, regardless of the situation. If there happens to be illicit activity or underage drinking, and you call 911, the police department cannot and will not arrest you.
In addition to offering Narcan training and Narcan nasal spray to individuals, parents hosted an informational station and provided people an opportunity to inscribe the name of a loved one lost to overdose on a bright-purple rock. The memorial rocks will be placed in parks and other locations as a reminder of lives lost to an overdose.
With Narcan being the No. 1 reversal agent for the No. 1 cause of death of individuals 18 to 45, Narcan should be in every home around the United States and as common as Band-Aids. The department will continue to attend community events to spread awareness and offer this lifesaving training at the Three Village Farmers’ Market in Stony Brook on Aug. 25. Additionally, if you are looking to honor a loved one that has died due to overdose or a fentanyl poisoning, the Suffolk County Police Department can provide free Narcan training at your event. If you are considering hosting a Narcan training as a way to honor your loved one, contact police officer Bridget Topping at firstname.lastname@example.org.