The city of Green in Summit County will equip hotels with Narcan, the naloxone nasal spray drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, in a program believed the be the first of its kind in the United States.
Mayor Gerard Neugebauer says the need rose from a disproportionate number of overdoses along Interstate 77.
"That's where all the hotels are located and traditionally we know that a large percentage of our overdoses are concentrated in that transportation cooridor," Neugebauer said. "We know now that over 50 percent of our overdoses are from people outside of our community."
That number is pacing at 60 percent in 2019, Neugebauer says, and Green residents overdose at about half the rate of other communities in Summit County.
The idea came from Greg McNeil and Cover2 Resources, a non-profit serving Cleveland and Akron. McNeil lost his son to a heroin overdose in 2015.
"Green has embraced the need for education and services to combat the opioid epidemic,” McNeil said in a statement released by the city. “Because of the Drug Task Force’s work in the community and the relationships they have built, it was the ideal location to launch the installations of these NARCAN emergency kits as we continue to work on building a network of first responders — which includes anyone willing to step in and save a life.”
Neugebauer says the fatal overdose of a 16-year-old Andrew Frye, who was using heroin with his mother and grandmother in 2016, served as the impetus for more research on the problem in Green.
"It's interesting that now we've come back to where we're putting NARCAN in the hotels, kind of the very symbol of the overdose issue in our community," Neugebauer said.
The two keys to the program, according to Neugebauer, is physically getting the easy-to-administer spray naloxone in the hotels and training hotel employees.
"The big part of the training is having those who are there at the hotels being aware of the signs of an overdose, being able to understand what's happening when there's an overdose, being able to respond quickly when there's an overdose," Neugebauer said.
The NARCAN will be located in a box behind the front desk of the hotels but will be open so employees can get to it quickly in case of an overdose.
Neugebauer hopes other cities follow Green's lead.
"We would like to see naloxone being available in all hotels on the I-77 corridor and we would love to help other communities adopt the same program that we have," Neugebauer said.
The Mayor also said the NaloxoFind application can be a useful tool in Green and elsewhere.
"It'll show you where there's Naloxone nearby," Neugebauer said. "It will also alert people who have registered for the app who are nearby. So within a two-mile radius, they'll be alerted that there's an overdose and if they choose, they can respond [with naloxone]."
According to the city, emergency kits are approximately $250 each, plus the cost of the Narcan itself, which is paid for through a grant from the Summit County Health Department.
Hotels or businesses in Green interested in learning more may call Firemedic Jeremy Chambers at 330-896-6610.