JONESBORO –Students, staff, faculty and visitors to the campus of Arkansas State University soon will have immediate access to lifesaving medical intervention when needed. A-State will add 57 NaloxBoxes around campus to be used when an opioid overdose occurs.
More than 20 of the boxes are installed and fully functional across campus with more to be added in the near future.
A NaloxBox contains two doses of a Narcan nasal spray with instructions for how to use the product. In addition, the kit will contain personal protective equipment such as gloves and CPR masks.
“The boxes may be used by any campus member if they feel an overdose has occurred and intervention is needed to reverse the effects,” said Melissa Dooley, director of environmental, health and safety. “One issue that often keeps bystanders or friends from helping and/or notifying first responders is the fear of liability or that they may be arrested if they are also in possession of a controlled substance at the time of the incident. “
There are two laws that protect bystanders. Arkansas Act 1222 protects anyone who administers a Narcan product when they reasonably believe an opioid overdose has occurred. The Joshua Ashley-Pauley Act (AR Code § 20-13-1704) says one cannot be arrested for simple possession of a controlled substance if first responders of a potential opioid overdose are notified.
According to Arkansas Take Back, the highest age group for misuse of prescription opioids is 18 to 25-year-olds. Arkansas is second in the nation with opioid prescription rates. Nearly 27,000 lives have been saved as a result of emergency Narcan products being administered.
“The goal of this program is to save lives, and we want students and faculty to feel comfortable and confident in doing just that. These boxes are public access. They are installed with a small red tamper tag that is designed to break away if the door is pulled upon. To access it, simply go up to the box and pull firmly against the door,” said Dooley.
In 2018 the university began adding automated external defibrillator units across campus. The NaloxBoxes will be placed in the same area as these units.
“Many illicit drugs are not ‘pure,’ meaning they could be laced with other opiates that users are unaware of. Due to this rise and the creation of the Narcan program by the Arkansas Collegiate Network, we believe this was a simple and necessary step to address the opiate crisis that our state and country are experiencing,” said Dooley.
Dooley said two members of the nursing faculty at A-State, Dr. Sarah Davidson and Dr. Mark Foster, suggested a grant opportunity to spearhead the effort.
“We then worked with the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Services and UALR MidSouth Center for Prevention and Training who provided the boxes, Narcan and training,” Dooley said.
As many as 65 NaloxBoxes are planned to be added across campus in the future.