I was at a recent crafting get-together where a friend asked me if I had any first aid supplies. I said, “Of course” and proceeded to rummage through my mom bag for the kit that always travels with me. Another friend had just gotten a little boo-boo from a needle prick – they both looked around and spotted me, the mom to twin toddlers, and were certain I would have a band-aid. They were delighted when I had more than that – antiseptic cleaner and antibiotic ointment too. “A mom is always prepared!” They laughed.
I laughed too but it’s also a reminder to me that you can never be too prepared for the worst possible accidents and injuries both at home and at work. What’s in your first aid kit at home? What about at work? Are you sure you even have a first aid kit at work? Do you know where it is and what’s in it? Do you know how to use what’s there? And is there anything missing?
For example, I read an article in the Washington Post last spring entitled “Why All Parents Should Get Narcan” that awoke me to a serious threat I had never considered. Narcan is a life-saving medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. My 16 year old son mostly plays on his Xbox and professes to be very anti-drugs. But the article pointed out that many children never even know that they are ingesting fentanyl, an extraordinarily strong opioid that can be added to other pills without the buyer’s knowledge. A recent death in my home state of a teen who thought she was buying a Percocet from a friend highlights the very real dangers that face everyone from fentanyl.
The Post article pointed out that Narcan is safe and easy to use. It has no side effects so even if you aren’t sure if someone is overdosing, it doesn’t hurt to use it but could save a life. It’s also quite cheap – I got a prescription for about $30, but it has recently been authorized for over-the-counter sales as well, at about $45. The Post article convinced me I needed Narcan in my home as a precaution, same as anything I might have in my first aid kit. I would rather it sit there dusty and never used of course – but I’d also rather have a son that stays alive for as long as possible.
Buying Narcan for my home though also started me thinking – maybe we should have it in our library as well. According to the CDC, nearly 40% of overdose deaths occurred when a bystander was present. If that bystander had Narcan, those people would still be alive.
Turns out great minds think alike – the Biden administration is also urging employers to stock Narcan in their company first aid kits. We stock a standard first aid kit at our library, kept in a shared staff space. It has basic injury treatment as well as pain relief. We aided Narcan in our first aid supplies for our library and trained everyone on how to use it. Though it is quite easy to use, if you aren’t trained on what to do, you may falter in the moment when every second counts. We practiced in a staff meeting and also sent out videos for everyone to watch. Narcan is a spray inhaler, with 2 inhalers in a pack. If you suspect someone of having an overdose (losing consciousness, cold/clammy and discolored skin, gurgling sounds, pinpoint eye pupils) lay them on their side and pump one entire inhaler into one nostril. If that does not revive them, then you can use the 2nd inhaler in the other nostril.
Stocking Narcan in our library is, to me, part of standard emergency preparedness. Same as we might prepare for any worst case scenario such as an active shooter or a hurricane. I hope we never have to use it – but I feel a sense of relief knowing that if it comes to it, we are prepared to save a life.
Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not those of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.