CONWAY, Ark. — The University of Central Arkansas has become the first college in the state to add emergency opioid overdose reversal kits across campus through the Arkansas Collegiate Network’s Collegiate Naloxbox Bystander Rescue Program.
The university partnered with the state's Department of Human Services Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services to implement the program.
Providing access to naloxone, or Narcan, will allow bystander rescuers to save the lives of opioid overdose victims by rapidly reversing to effects of an overdose and helping the victim breathe.
Naloxbox cabinets have been strategically placed in public spaces and high-traffic student areas where people can quickly and easily access the resources needed to save lives.
The boxes are wall-mounted, just like a fire extinguisher or emergency defibrillator.
Each Naloxbox contains injectable doses of naloxone, instructions on how to administer it, a mask, gloves, information on how to obtain personal naloxone, addiction treatment resources, and additional rescue equipment.
According to UCA President Houston Davis, installing the Naloxboxes was a nod to the university's commitment to healthcare education and the safety of its students.
"We are thankful for the work of Dr. Stephanie Rose in the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences and her work in bringing this initiative to campus," Davis added.
Dr. Rose, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences at UCA and director of the addiction studies program, was a driving force in bringing the Naloxboxes to campus.
She noted that the program will allow students to have quicker access to naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose— which can be critical.
"First responders often have access to naloxone, but we know seconds matter in cases of opioid overdoses,” she explained. “With the addition of the Naloxboxes on the University of Central Arkansas campus, we are empowering students, faculty, and staff to save lives by increasing knowledge, as well as access to naloxone."
Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane said that having Naloxboxes accessible campuswide could make a difference in someone's life.
“This ‘opidemic’ affects so many people from all walks of life, including students in our state’s colleges and universities," said Lane. "Giving students and other bystanders on college campuses the ability to administer naloxone can be the difference between life and death for a young person.”
Tenesha Barnes, a DHS program manager, said that students should be prepared and know how to help their classmates, even if they're unsure if the person is experiencing an overdose.
She added that if a person is treated with naloxone, and isn't experiencing an overdose, there are no harmful side effects
"Bystanders that administer the medication are protected by the Good Samaritan law. The bottom line is that we want everyone to be prepared and able to administer life-saving emergency treatment for a possible overdose before it’s too late,” Barnes explained.
For more information about the Collegiate Naloxbox Bystander Rescue Program, please contact DAABHS Program Coordinator Steven Gray at Steven.Gray@dhs.arkansas.gov.