Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan signed an executive order calling for Narcan kits to be available in high risk areas. This new Narcan Kits Initiative will allow for 90 Narcan kits to be placed in areas of high impact around the county.
Narcan kits provide potentially life saving Narcan, which can reverse fatal opioid overdoses.
The county will put 60 of these kits in county buildings near automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and train building staff on how to use them. For the other 30 kits, the county will use a drug overdose tracking database called ODMap to find the most relevant places in the community for the new Narcan kits. Building and grounds crew will check the boxes monthly and assist in switching them out every 24 months per shelf-life requirements or in accordance with expiration dates.
On Aug. 31, International Overdose Awareness Day, Ulster County declared a State of Emergency in response to an increase in deaths caused by fentanyl in the county. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. From January 2020 through July 2020, opioid-related deaths increased 171%, compared to June through July of 2019. This year also saw fentanyl-related deaths increase from 58% of all opioid-related deaths in 2018, to 89% of all opioid-related deaths in 2020.
“One of my ‘Big Five’ priorities is to ramp up our efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic because we cannot allow this crisis to continue to rip apart our community and our families,” Ryan said in a press release. “I am proud to partner with a bi-partisan group of the Ulster County Legislature to expedite this program. We still have a long road ahead of us, but increasing access to Narcan by placing these kits in high-risk locations and county buildings is a life saving and vital step forward in combating this crisis.”
In the past two years, Ryan has dedicated 1.3 million dollars in opioid prevention spending. In the first part of his 2021 budget, Ryan has committed to dedicate $670,000 to opioid prevention.
“As a County, we must do everything possible to fight this crisis and reduce opioid-related deaths,” said Ulster County Legislator Laura Petit in a press release. “I have been advocating placement of Narcan Boxes in county buildings near AEDs, and thanks to County Executive Ryan’s leadership this critical initiative will be a reality. Together, we will help turn the tide and save lives.”