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‘Your bar staff sees everything’: Coalition training nightlife staff to respond to overdoses

Posted at 11:22 AM, Apr 26, 2022

CINCINNATI — The Coalition for Community Safety will train bar, restaurant and workers to identify and react to drug overdoses. The coalition says the training is a “first-of-its-kind.”

Noam Barnard, the executive director of the coalition, said these workers are often on the frontlines of the problem.

“Your bar staff sees everything,” he said. “They hear everything. They kind of know what's going on. If somebody comes out of the bathroom and says, ‘Hey, there's somebody passed out on the floor over there,’ yes, call 911. But at the same time, we have Narcan in the office or behind the bar and it could be a matter of minutes that can save somebody's life.”

Educating workers on how to administer Narcan is at the forefront of the training. Narcan is a medicine that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose.

Barnard said one of the biggest problems right now is that party drugs are being laced with fentanyl. Nationwide, the DEA reports 42% of pills tested for fentanyl have contained a potentially deadly dose.

Barnard said his role in the fight was simply to make tools accessible that could save lives.

“It's easy to look at drug addiction and say, ‘Oh, there's people living on the street and they’re using stuff like that,’ but what's really happening out there is there's young people out there trying to have a good night,” he said. “The problem is some of those decisions have fentanyl cut into it and it's killing people.”

Everyone who completes the training will be issued Narcan. Barnard said the coalition plans to hold more of these trainings and hopes to expand the program throughout other cities.

This story was first reported by Madeline Ottilie at WCPO in Cincinnati.