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Businesses training staff to use Narcan

Sexy Pizza said they recently started training employees to use naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

DENVER — Some Denver businesses have started training their staff on how to use naloxone in case of an opioid overdose. 

Denver residents have been able to order the lifesaving medicine free from the city for months now. Commonly known by the brand name Narcan, it quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

"So we've probably been training businesses for the past few years, especially as the overdose crisis has increased," said Lisa Raville, Executive Director for the Harm Reduction Action Center in Denver. "But we also talk to folks about having a syringe disposal in their bathrooms, how to recognize and respond to an overdose."

Raville estimates that they've helped train employees of about 10 businesses in the last few years.

Most recently, they partnered with Sexy Pizza to train employees. 

"[I] think it's just important to be trained so that when this happening, no matter where you are, at one of our restaurants or if you’re at Red Rocks and you see this happen – it's just good training to have," said Kyle Peters, Director of Operations for Sexy Pizza.

He said they've had training at one of their three locations, and have two scheduled for the other Denver locations soon. 

"Much like CPR training, I think it's just important on that level," Peters said. “I encourage everyone to get the training at the very least just to be able to identify someone who is overdosing in those situations. I think that is step number one.”

Raville said usually if a business reaches out to them, it's because an incident recently occurred.

"In the worst overdose crisis we've ever been in, it used to be cops coming up on people overdosing. Now it's 17-year-old baristas who are being re-triggered every day because they don't want to clean the bathroom before they go home because they've come up on somebody overdosing," she said. "So this is a larger community trauma issue."

Credit: Luis de Leon
Lisa Raville, Executive Director of the Harm Reduction Action Center in Denver.

So far this year, Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment said, they have received 4,935 requests for overdose prevention supplies (naloxone and fentanyl test strips). 

Of those, 4,866 have been shipped. It’s currently taking one to two weeks for orders to be shipped once they are placed.

A spokesperson for the department said it's hard to tell in the data if the addresses are businesses or residential.

"At this point, we are not working with businesses directly to provide these supplies outside of the online ordering form, but we do work closely with several community-based organizations to provide overdose prevention supplies directly to communities disproportionately impacted by overdose," the spokesperson said in an email. "Many of our community partners distribute supplies at places like nightclubs, bars, and concerts."

RELATED: Colorado distributes record number of naloxone doses to organizations statewide

Colorado's 178 school districts also have an opportunity to request to use the Naloxone Bulk Purchase Fund, which provides doses of naloxone to school districts for staff to have on hand.

So far, just five have used the program:

  • Boulder Valley School District
  • Clear Creek School District
  • Colorado Springs School District 11
  • Cherry Creek School District
  • Mountain Valley School District

Raville said she's given a presentation to the Arts District in Denver, but is hoping more businesses choose to keep Narcan on hand.

"So I want to make sure that folks are armed and ready to go, because we're in the worst overdose crisis we've ever been in," she said.

RELATED: How to get Narcan in Colorado

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Fentanyl in Colorado

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