VINE GROVE, Ky. — Every second counts when someone overdoses, and in a move to help save more lives, the Vine Grove Police Department created a free Narcan vending machine; a first in the state.
Narcan is a nasal spray medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in just a few minutes. Just three days after the vending machine was opened, all 42 doses had been taken.
“Each one of these were dispensed either one or two packages, and most of the time just one, to individuals all over our community and in fact, we had reports that somebody came from Fairdale to be able to dispense it because this is the only machine in the state of Kentucky,” Bryce Shumate, Chief Emergency Services Officer of Hardin County said.
Vine Grove Police could make this possible with help from behavioral health provider Communicare and the Lincoln Trail District Health Department.
“This is being proactive. We are trying to prevent bad reactions from an overdose and having a positive spin on this by being able to do something to help the public,” Shumate said.
Shumate says since January, Hardin County EMS has responded to over 200 overdose calls, 34 of which ended up being fatal. But just two puffs from one of the nasal sprays could have lowered that number. It’s why making it easier to access the drug is backed by public health leaders who helped acquire state funds to pay for the vending machine.
“One of the big things that we know that is evidenced based, that’s researched based, is that increasing access to Naloxone helps to reduce overdose deaths,” Jennifer Osborne, Health Promotion Manager of the Lincoln Trail District Health Department said.
Osborne adds she was more than happy when the Vine Grove Police Chief reached out about creating one of the vending machines. Osborne mentions sometimes law enforcement and public health are not always on the same page about harm reduction programs like giving out Narcan or needle exchanges, but when they are, it is a win for everybody.
“So many times we’ve gotten on the scene of an overdose and the person is not breathing and they’re not breathing and you think the sooner that you can get that person back up and responding and breathing, the less damage it has to the body,” Shumate said.
Both Shumate and Osborne agree they’d like to see more Narcan vending machines created in the state. While the machine was still empty on Tuesday, they expect more free Narcan doses to be restocked later this week.