Narcan boxes added around campus as part of campus prevention efforts
November 12, 2023
In collaboration with Wisconsin's Voices of Recovery, UW-River Falls installed 17 Narcan (Naloxone) boxes around campus. The campus is taking preventive measures as opioid-related deaths are on the rise in the community.
According to an email sent out by Chief of Police Karl Fleury, the new Narcan boxes are located in all UWRF residence halls by the first-floor lobbies, the lower level of Chalmer Davee Library, the Falcon Center, and on the second and first floor of the University Center. The boxes contain two doses of Narcan nasal spray, instructions on how to use them, and a mask for rescue breathing. The boxes are connected to the internet, allowing Wisconsin Voices for Recovery to restock it when empty.
“We have not had a fentanyl overdose, an opioid overdose, here on campus, but what we are trying to do is be proactive instead of reactive. If it saves one life it is well worth it but again it's better to be proactive than reactive to a situation,” said Fleury. Although no overdose has happened on the UWRF campus, Fleury’s email stated, “However, we have had incidents in our surrounding community. We feel it is important to be proactive as a university instead of reactive to help ensure the safety of everyone who visits or attends our university.”
“If you look at a penny and it covers about the size of Lincoln's chin that could be a fatal overdose of fentanyl, an even smaller amount of the other [type of fentanyl], like a pin head, would cause death,” said Fleury. Opioid deaths have doubled in the United States since 2015 and surpassed 100,000 annually in 2021.
Wisconsin Stat. 895.48(1) provides that any person who renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency or accident in good faith shall be immune from civil liability for their acts or omissions in rendering such emergency care.
Wisconsin Stat. 961.443 provides immunity from prosecution for possession of drug paraphernalia, a controlled substance or controlled substance or analog or a masking agent if a person calls 911 to help another person who they reasonably believe to be suffering an overdose or other adverse reaction to any controlled substance or controlled substance analog.
According to the Wisconsin Voices for Recovery (WIVFR) website, their mission is “to unite people in and seeking recovery, their families, helping professionals, and our allies. As a diverse coalition of recovery advocates, we serve as a statewide network to link services and support to those in need.” WIVFR is a nonprofit organization that received a grant to help fund their Nalox-ZONE program. They have put these boxes in organizations, businesses, and schools counties all over Wisconsin.
WIVFR has many other programs, including Engagement to Recovery, 211 Helpline, and ED2Recovery+. According to their website, Engagement to Recovery is a community-based program that addresses disparities in health care. This program focuses on racial disparities in health care and treatment options for people with addictions, and, after identifying disparities, they will implement a community engagement plan. The 211 Helpline connects callers with the best treatment and care for their situations, in collaboration with community partners. The ED2Recovery+ program provides recovery coaches and certified peer support services, with the goal to unite treatment systems. WIVFR also spreads awareness through their podcast, which features interviews with people who have struggled with addiction and are now sober.
More preventive efforts are taking place throughout campus, with the main goal of education. Pierce County Public Health put on an event called Narcan Training and Opioid Awareness in Rodli Hall on Oct. 16.
The one thing Chief Fleury wanted the campus community to know is to “Be aware of and educate about the dangers with drugs and fentanyl and the risk everybody takes with it. Because the thing is, just handling this stuff can be absorbed through the pores of your skin. It's a danger and a risk and our students and campus community need to be aware of that.”