URI’s Community First Responder program to help stop overdoses across New England, thanks to new federal grant – URI News

KINGSTON, RI – November 16, 2022 – The Community First Responder Program (CFRP) at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy has distributed thousands of lifesaving naloxone kits over the past three years while educating community members reverse opioid overdoses. With a new federal grant of $1.3 million, the program has now expanded to become the Northeast Regional Rural Opioid Technical Assistance Center for overdose response training in rural areas of the New England.

According to clinical professor Anita Jacobson, director of the program. Husson University School of Pharmacy, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension and Western New England University School of Pharmacy will join URI in training members of the public to recognize an overdose of opioids and using Narcan to quit one.

“It takes the model we’ve built in Rhode Island and helps other schools implement the plan in their areas,” Jacobson said. “We have trained thousands of people in Rhode Island and now plan to expand the program into rural areas of New England. There are many people who have been affected by the opioid epidemic.

For the past three years, CFRP has held free naloxone training and education seminars throughout Rhode Island, raising more than $4 million in grants to support the program. Trainees in the program receive a free nasal spray kit of naloxone (Narcan) – the drug to reverse an opioid overdose – and can request fentanyl test strips to help detect the deadly synthetic opioid.

“Understanding how to recognize an overdose and have those resources available can help save lives when seconds are crucial,” Jacobson said. “Anyone who knows someone who takes opioids for any reason or uses unregulated substances, such as stimulants, can be trained to recognize and respond to an overdose.”

Through online training seminars and more in-depth in-person seminars, primarily aimed at healthcare professionals and first responders, the program has trained more than 4,000 community members to help save the life of a person who has overdosed. The program distributed 26,000 Narcan kits in 2022 alone through direct community events and by distributing them to community partners by mail. CFRP is now an authorized wholesale distributor of naloxone.

Everyone is invited to complete an interactive 10-minute online module to become a community first responder. The course includes the option to request a free naloxone kit by mail, which includes two doses of naloxone nasal spray that can be administered directly into the nostrils of someone who is overdosing. For more information or to become a first responder, visit web.uri.edu/cfrp.

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