Narcan, a lifesaving medication that reverses opioid overdoses, will become more readily available throughout the community through a partnership between the city and community organizations.
The City Council Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a resolution that aims to mitigate the opioid crisis by expanding several harm reduction strategies.
The effort will involve increasing access to medication-assisted treatment, Naloxone – also known as Narcan – and support services and operations for community partners focused on harm reduction strategies.
City Rep. Alexsandra Annello said an El Paso Matters series last year on Narcan highlighted important issues that were key in moving forward with the item Tuesday.
“Something else that’s really important that hasn’t been talked about today is the willingness and eagerness of the people that work at the city of El Paso, the police officers, the EMS wanting to have these resources,” Annello said. “We recognize that this is a gap in our service and having that information that was presented in El Paso Matters, I think, was invaluable for moving forward today.”
Narcan is an opioid antagonist, meaning it reverses the symptoms of an overdose, restores breathing and blocks the effects of opioids on the body. Narcan can be administered with the click of a button and has no effect on someone who doesn’t have opioids in their system, according to the El Paso Matters series from a year ago that showed how other cities effectively use Narcan to save lives.
The effort to expand Narcan availability will also include work on enhancing partnerships with the El Paso Harm Reduction Alliance, which is composed of organizations including Punto de Partida, Project Vida, the Recovery Alliance of El Paso, and the local mental health consortium.
Rapid assessment, screening and referral to harm reduction services, medication assisted therapy and behavioral health providers will also be part of the effort.
The city received a payment of approximately $384,000 from National Opioid Settlement funds that the city will use to fund efforts such as supplying Narcan kits in first responder vehicles and increasing access to the medication and training for facilities such as public libraries, parks and recreation and Sun Metro and mass transit vehicles.
There was not a specific timeline for when the program will be completed.