Juneau fire department is distributing opioid overdose rescue kits

An overdose rescue kit that Capital City Fire and Rescue distributes to people when they get a 911 call for an overdose in Juneau, Alaska on April 15, 2022. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)

Juneau’s fire department is getting more opioid overdose rescue kits out to people who need them in the community. 

Emergency responders carry overdose kits when they respond to 911 calls. They can give them to people ahead of potential overdose situations or they can replace a kit that’s already been used. 

In each kit are two doses of Narcan, which is a nasal spray that stops someone from overdosing on opioids. There’s also a fentanyl testing strip so people can test their own opioids for contamination and a safe bag to dispose of pills in the kit.

A statewide initiative called Project Hope is getting the overdose rescue kits out to people throughout the state. Andrew Pantiskas, an emergency medical services officer for Capital City Fire and Rescue, said the program is getting Narcan out to more people who need it. 

Capital City Fire and Rescue EMS Officer Andrew Pantiskas at the fire station in downtown Juneau, Alaska on April 15, 2022. Pantiskas runs a program that distributes overdose rescue kits to people in Juneau who call 911 for an overdose. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)

“Because a lot of the time we show up and someone’s overdosed on opiates, and we administer Narcan or they administer Narcan, a lot of those people don’t actually go to the hospital,” Pantiskas said. “They just stay home, or they go about their day. And we never know about it.”

Sometimes responders get there too late when someone is experiencing an overdose. But if they have an overdose kit, it gives emergency responders more time to get there and prevents people from going into cardiac arrest. 

Pantiskas said there shouldn’t be a stigma around having Narcan around and that having Narcan is about being safe and prepared. 

“Everyone’s in a different place in their life and everybody is on a different path,” Pantiskas said. “And you know, just because they might have Narcan or need Narcan doesn’t mean that they’re abusing anything.”

The fire department doesn’t usually distribute the kits outside of the 911 calls and the program wasn’t meant to give out a lot of first-time kits. 

Some places in Juneau to get a kit for the first time include Bartlett Regional Hospital and Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. 

Lyndsey Brollini

Local News Reporter

I bring voices to my stories that have been historically underserved and underrepresented in news. I look at stories through a solutions-focused lens with a goal to benefit the community of Juneau and the state of Alaska.

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