The Minot Fire Department is working with the First District Health Unit to provide Narcan overdose rescue medication to members of the community.
Holly Brekhus, director of health promotion at FDHU, recently conducted training with firefighters as part of the FDHU’s Narcan Leave Behind Program. Through the program, firefighters can provide kits that contain two doses of Narcan, as well as instructions on how to use the medication, a safety mask and gloves, and other information.
“It’s a nationwide program. We heard about it through some of our other state grantees,” Brekhus said. “We believe this is something that can work here, too. It’s good to be prepared. We hope people don’t have to use the kits, but we hear first-hand stories all the time from families who were glad they had Narcan on hand.”
Battalion Chief Austin Burns said Fire Department crews respond to opioid drug overdoses on an almost daily basis, and often administer Narcan on the scene. The life-saving prescription medication temporarily reverses an opioid overdose.
“Our crews are taxed with this a lot. The ultimate goal is to save lives. This problem is out there, and we see it every single day,” Burns said. “For us, our number one priority is to take care of our people whether they live here or they’re just visiting. That’s our nature, and that’s what we do as firefighters.”
Burns said he anticipates his crews will provide the Narcan kits to family members or friends of an overdose victim while at the scene of an incident, or to the victims themselves.
“I think we’ll end up providing them to someone who wants help or someone who wants to help a family member or a friend in an emergency,” Burns said. “I think we’ll see these being used when we get on scene. If it helps save one person, then it’s worth it. It’s up to us to do whatever it takes to help people.”
First District Health Unit provides the kits to the Fire Department. The program is part of North Dakota’s State Opioid Response Grant, which is funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The Narcan Leave Behind Program was implemented by fire departments in Fargo, West Fargo, and Grand Forks in 2022.