CATSKILL — State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, will host a free Narcan training outside of the Greene County Legislature on Thursday as opioid overdoses in the area and surrounding counties continue to rise.
In partnership with Greener Pathways, a substance use and recovery program, and the Catskill Police Department, participants will learn to recognize the signs of opioid overdose and how to administer Narcan — also known as naloxone — to temporarily reverse the effects of overdose.
Participants will receive free Narcan nasal spray kits to carry, according to the event page.
The training comes after overdose deaths spike in Greene County when the pandemic began and have been continually increasing since, said Carl Quinn, Greener Pathways program director in the Twin County Recovery Services.
“Our communities were already severely struggling with the opioid epidemic before the start of the pandemic, but COVID-19 has turned it into overdrive,” Hinchey said in an Instagram post in March.
According to data from the Overdose Mapping Application Program, Greene County has seen 68 overdoses from the beginning of the year to July 20, with seven fatalities. Compared to the same time period in 2020, this is a 17% increase in fatalities.
Across the river, Columbia County has seen 49 overdoses year-to-date — a 20% increase over last year — including five deaths, according to the data.
“We’re not seeing the decrease in the number of overdoses occurring. To us that says we need to make sure Narcan is out there so that these don’t end up as fatal overdoses,” Quinn said. “That’s ultimately the gain of putting Narcan out there, to make sure somebody survives an overdose.”
Quinn said Hinchey has been doing Narcan demonstrations in all five counties in her district. Quinn recommended the training in Greene County take place in Catskill, Cairo or on the mountaintop, as those communities have been hardest hit with active opioid use, Quinn said.
Catskill was ultimately chosen because it is the county seat, Quinn said.
“We thought it would be a good place to have it right downtown, center Catskill,” Quinn said.
The programs usually have a good turnout from community members who want to have Narcan administration as a skill to help the surrounding community, according to a statement from Hinchey’s office.
The training will take place outside of the Greene County Legislature building on Main Street in Catskill and will use Greener Pathways’ mobile RV unit. Using the unit and having the event outdoors increases public visibility and accessiblity, according to Hinchey’s office.
Quinn said the intention in providing communities with Narcan is for them to carry it with them everywhere.
“It could be the grocery store, it could be Walmart, it could be the corner Stewart’s Shop — any place that’s any place is where an overdose can occur, and so by having it with you, keeping it on hand, you have the potential that you’re there should an overdose needs to be reversed,” Quinn said.
The training will be held outdoors Thursday at the Greene County Office Building in Catskill at 5:30 p.m. No prior registration is required, and all participants will receive a free overdose prevention kit with Narcan.