Kalamazoo College trains staff to rescue victims of opioid overdoses


    The opioid rescue kits - small blue pouches containing a pair of protective gloves, two Narcan (naloxon) sprays, a mouth-to-mouth guard, and informational cards on using them - were given to Kalamazoo College by the Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health, which provides mental health and substance abuse care options. (WWMT)

    Kalamazoo College has a new program to keep students and the community safe from opioid overdoses. While K College does not have a problem with opioid addiction, school administrators said, the new rescue kits could mean a matter of life or death.

    "We put it off for a while because we are so lucky, in being at Kalamazoo, we are close very close to excellent emergency medical care," said Sarah Westphal, the dean of students and vice president of student development at K College.

    "We are close to two excellent hospitals, so we haven't had the need as some of our sister institutions in very rural areas," Westphal said. "But we would rather have the resources. We would rather have a knowledge, and not have to use it-- rather than realize, gosh, we could have gotten in front of this; we could have done a better job of this."

    The small blue pouches - filled with a pair of protective gloves, two Narcan (naloxon) sprays, a mouth-to-mouth guard, and informational cards - are cost-free to the college. The kits and the training on using them are sponsored by the Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health, which provides mental health and substance abuse care options.

    As of February 2019, more than a dozen people working on the K College campus had been trained to use the kits and administer the anti-overdose medication.

    Students applauded the move.

    "I'm proud of my school," first-year student Syndey Rotigel-Finegan said. "I'm proud of my campus for taking whatever steps they can, preventative as they may be, to ensure the safety of all of its students. I really feel that presence on campus. I think it's a great thing."

    Another freshman, Jasmine Murillo, said, "The fact that there's not a huge problem here, and they're already taking a step ahead of other schools I think it makes me really proud."

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