In New York State, the opioid overdose rate increased 20.4% from 2014 to 2015. To combat the opioid epidemic, New York and other states across the United States are increasing access to the drug naloxone, which is used to help reverse the effects of opioid or heroin overdose. In 2015, my host site, the Westchester County Department of Health, expanded its naloxone training program to include the general public to help save more lives. As part of this effort, I became a certified naloxone trainer.
Serving as a naloxone trainer has been a big part of my experience in the Public Health Associate Program (PHAP). I have trained more than 2,000 physicians, pharmacists, medical students, and community members to administer the drug. I also participated in a partnership between the county health department and the College of New Rochelle, training 80 nursing students to recognize the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and administer naloxone (I’m pictured on the right above, watching a newly trained nurse “administer” naloxone). Those who successfully completed the training received two-year certifications that allowed them to administer the drug in cases of a suspected opioid overdose.
Providing people with the skills and tools to save someone experiencing an overdose was very fulfilling. The Westchester County Department of Health has made a commitment to fighting this epidemic, and I’m glad to have been a part of it.
My PHAP experience also helped me develop a strong public health foundation through hands-on program planning, assessment, and knowledge of current public health practices. I am confident that, because of my experience with community engagement, I am ready for my new job, where I will help develop a tribal consultation and engagement process to improve immunization-related communication and activities with the various tribes and pueblos in New Mexico.