Cortland police responded to 55 opioid overdoses in 2020, more than twice what they responded to in 2017 — and seven just last month, leading to a naloxone training event next week.
HEALing Community Study members and Family Counseling Services of Cortland County will host a pop up naloxone training event to teach people how to administer naloxone to people during an opioid overdose.
How to train
What:Naloxone training and distribution
When:11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Where:138 Main St., Cortland
Naloxone stops the progress of an opioid overdose. Administering it is as simple as spraying the medication up the nose of the patient.
“We bring concerned community members together to address the opioid crisis in Cortland by working together to reduce overdose deaths,” said Sara Watrous, a staff member with Cortland Area Communities That Care. Anecdotally, Watrous has seen an increase in overdoses in 2020.
It’s no surprise to Cortland Police Officer Jesse Abbott that Cortland has seen a rise in opioid overdoses in the past year, to 55 last year from 48 in 2019 in the city. Those 55 calls were just from the city, and only the calls police responded to. Seven of those people died, but naloxone was administered 26 times.
“With everything happening with COVID, it has prevented people from going out and getting the necessary treatment they need,” said Abbott, the department’s community policing officer.
That illustrates the need for the training, he said.
“It’s good that they are having this right now,” Abbott said. “If you sit back and look, it’s the middle of winter, it’s freezing; the numbers are popping up. Narcan training is so simplistic, it is so easy to be trained in it.”
Dean O’Gorman, a board adviser for HEALing Cortland, knows naloxone could have saved his son from an overdose in 2017.
“It would have made all the difference in my son’s life at the time,” O’Gorman said. “It wouldn’t have changed the battle he was in, but it’s a major form of harm reduction and has proven to save lives.”
His goal is to help other parents not have to fight this fight.
“I can’t stress enough how much harm reduction makes a difference,” O’Gorman said. “It’s saving lives and helping people, not just people that are in need but the community itself.”