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Long-time EMT volunteer promotes overdose awareness with free Narcan training

Rob Adams served as a volunteer EMT for 13 years before working in pain management. He said he wants to put his Narcan training to use in his community.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Rob Adams is all too familiar with the nature of overdoses. A medical volunteer for 13 years, he has administered the overdose reversal drug, Narcan, dozens of times.

"It's definitely more than 50 to 100, I'm sure," Adams shrugged, thinking back on his time as an EMT.

Narcan, more formally known as Naloxone, is a nasal spray treatment that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. 

According to the Virginia Department of Health's data, overdose death rates rose across the state going into 2021. In Hampton Roads, Portsmouth is seeing the highest death rates, followed by Newport News. 

RELATED: Overdose death rates rising on Peninsula, new VDH program looking to help

In addition to his volunteer work, Adams also worked with pain management and then worked at recovery centers. 

"I've seen both sides. It's truly an epidemic that no one seems to want to address," Adams said as he started to tear up, recalling some memories of responding to emergency calls and helping patients at the recovery centers. "It's sad... it's really sad. Because people don't wake up and say, 'Hey, I want to shoot fentanyl today.' It doesn't work that way."

Adams started his own organization called Citizen Lay Rescuer Training after he became a certified Narcan instructor. As part of his initiative, Adams said he received hundreds of Narcan doses, along with kits, through the state Department of Behavioral Health to hand out to people who wish to attend his training sessions. Every session with Adams is free and the Narcan kits he hands out are free as well.

"It's very simple to use. It's no different than you going to the store and using nasal spray for your cold," Adams explained as he opened up the box and showed the nasal spray package. "You just stick [the tip of the spray] in their nose and press the plunger."

Adams said he has been working on partnering with other local organizations to help get the word out about the opioid crisis and its impact on Virginia. He said he also recently started helping workers at homeless shelters recognize the signs of an overdose and how to administer Narcan for free.

Meanwhile, the nasal spray antidote just hit store shelves nationwide at all Walgreens locations, but at the cost of $45. Adams wants people to know his organization will not make you pay for your own kit. Like the widely available training of CPR, he wants more people to have this kit on hand, so anyone can help in an emergency situation. 

Another note the long-time medical volunteer wants people to know is that it is possible for a person to overdose again shortly after receiving Narcan, in certain situations. Adams said Narcan may not be the perfect solution to help in the opioid epidemic, but it will help save time to get that person the help he or she needs.

Adams said if you cannot attend his regular sessions, but still want to learn more, he will make time to meet you and go through the training.

You can learn more about Adams' efforts by joining his Facebook group. From there, Adam can be reached to discuss options for Narcan training. 

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