More than 300 employees of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority are undergoing training to use the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.
“We are training all of our employees: drivers, mechanics, anyone who works here, with some background on the opioid issue and specifically the use of Narcan,“ said TARTA General Manager Jim Gee, referring to a commonly used brand name for the medication. “Hopefully we can help save some lives.”
A TARTA bus driver out on a route. The transit authority is training 321 employees on the use of the overdose reversal medication naloxone.
It’s especially appropriate for drivers, he said, who frequently interact with passengers who have addiction issues. After the instruction, drivers can carry naloxone at their discretion.
“To be a good bus driver, you really have to have a personality that you care about others,” Mr. Gee said. “This really follows right along with that mission-based personality.”
He said drivers have had to call 911 after witnessing overdoses while on their routes, though he couldn’t offer an estimate for its frequency.
“Our drivers are on the street seven days a week, 365 days a year ... [with] 11,000 passengers a day,” he said. “Some of those are the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society.”
He likened the naloxone training to a previous decision to teach TARTA staff how to identify signs of human trafficking.
Toledo-Lucas County Health Department employees began instructing the TARTA employees last week and will wrap up soon, Mr. Gee said. It was done as part of a required training to update staff on new employee drug policies.
Health department spokesman Shannon Lands said TARTA employees received naloxone and can carry it as they see fit. The kits were paid for by Project DAWN, a state distribution program to provide community education on overdoses and naloxone.
"The TARTA drivers have been trained to recognize an opioid overdose, call 911, administer intranasal naloxone, and provide support care pending the arrival of EMS,” Ms. Lands said. “Unfortunately, we are seeing opioid overdoses in many public areas, including buses. It’s good public health practice to equip the drivers with the tools to potentially reverse an opioid overdose.”
Other public or private entities that would like to train their staff on naloxone can call the health department at 419-213-4135 to schedule.
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