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Carnegie church to host Narcan training

| Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, 2:06 p.m.

Amid the opioid epidemic, overdoses are occurring nearly everywhere — from inside the home to public spaces. It could be a family member, a friend or a stranger.

But what do you do when you come upon a person who has overdosed?

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carnegie is attempting to take a proactive approach in fighting the opioid crisis by teaching community members just that.

“This can happen anywhere. If you can do something to save a life, why wouldn't you?” asked Jack Kobistek, a church member who serves as the recently elected magisterial district judge for the area. He previously served as Carnegie mayor.

Medical personnel will teach attendees at a Jan. 31 workshop in St. Luke Hall how to administer naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug, often referred to by its brand name Narcan, as well as how to keep a person's airway clear and what to do before first responders arrive.

The program was initiated after the Rev. Dave Poecking sought to provide outreach for families of people who are suffering from addiction and give them support, said Christine Sincic, who is helping to organize the training.

“Anyone who thinks they might be in a situation where someone might be in trouble and maybe they could help them should come,” she said.

The parish already has a substance abuse ministry and this is another avenue for outreach, she said.

The training will teach people how to identify an overdose and allow people dealing with relatives or friends to connect with others in a similar situation.

“People have to be able to identify that is what they're dealing with,” she said.

Overdose deaths are on the rise across the nation. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf this month declared a statewide disaster emergency in response to the heroin and opioid epidemic.

In Carnegie, police officers who are equipped with Narcan administered the drug between one and two dozen times in 2017, said Kobistek, who served as the borough's longtime mayor until being sworn in as magistrate this year. Emergency services responders administer it more frequently, he said.

Kobistek said he plans to go through the training himself in case there's ever an overdose at the court when an officer isn't around.

“You never know. A lot of times, there aren't officers here,” he said. “We want people in the general public to know that you can be trained and administer Narcan to your loved ones who are overdosing.”

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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