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Westmoreland

Westmoreland libraries prepared to treat overdoses

Renatta Signorini
| Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, 2:00 p.m.
A naloxone nasal injection device
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
A naloxone nasal injection device

Libraries in Westmoreland County are stocking up on a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Last week, staff members at a few facilities were trained in how to recognize the signs of an overdose and administer naloxone.

“We can potentially save someone's life just by having it there,” said Jessica Beichler, director of Trafford Community Public Library.

The Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission provided training and naloxone kits — which each contain two doses of naloxone nasal spray — to staff members at libraries in Trafford, Latrobe, Greensburg and Sewickley Township. The kits were provided through commission funding and a Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency program , said Liz Comer, director of clinical and case management services.

Staff members at Mt. Pleasant and Delmont libraries plan to get the training and kits, Comer said.

“We're hoping more will get on board,” she said.

The type of community members who are considered first responders in the national drug epidemic is changing. Police and paramedics routinely revive victims of drug overdoses, but naloxone kits have been distributed locally to a variety of groups, including firefighters, shelters, probation officials and others.

The Allegheny County Health Department trained Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh employees last year.

Five kits are placed strategically around Greensburg Hempfield Area Library, said director Casey Sirochman, who was trained with about a dozen staff members last week. An additional kit is at the library's branch facility in Youngwood.

“We have a defibrillator here, so why not have” another method to help someone during an emergency, Sirochman said.

“That's our hope, is to save lives,” she said, adding that libraries in other parts of the country have had problems with patrons overdosing in the facility.

In 2017, 194 people died from a drug overdose in Westmoreland County, according to coroner data. In the two previous years combined, 300 deaths in the county were attributed to a drug overdose.

Two kits are available for use at the Trafford library, where eight staff members were trained, Beichler said.

“We recognize that it is a growing problem and I know that libraries in other areas have started doing this,” she said. “I think it's important that we are trained in how to recognize signs and help where we can.”

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@tribweb.com or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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