Portage County Health District holds “Project DAWN” training at Kent State

Jake Majka

While the opioid epidemic in Ohio continues to be a point of concern within communities, people are looking for ways they can help address the problem.

The Portage County Health District held its “Project DAWN” (Drugs Avoided With Naloxone) training Wednesday at Franklin Hall. Project DAWN is a drug overdose and Naloxone distribution program for Portage County residents or individuals who work in Portage County. Participants who do not live in Portage County could participate, but are not able to receive a Project DAWN kit.

The kit qualifying participants received includes two, needleless syringes containing Naloxone, two atomizers for nasal application, a face shield for rescue breathing, an instructional DVD and Portage County referral information.

Naloxone, also known by the name brand Narcan, is a medication that can reverse the effect of an opioid overdose. It blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and can restore breathing in a matter of minutes. Naloxone has been used safely by emergency medical professionals for over 40 years.

Participants who attended the class learned about the the signs and symptoms of a drug overdose, proper rescue breathing techniques, and the proper way to to administer nasal naloxone.

“I think the most important thing was knowing the signs and symptoms and the rescue breathing, and I think can be useful for anyone who wanted this information,” said Jan Leach, an associate professor of journalism and mass communication.

The training was presented by Becky Lehman, the director of health education and promotion for Portage County Health District. During the presentation, Lehman stressed the importance of noticing the signs of overdoses and demonstrated proper techniques to administer treatment to an overdosing individual.

“It’s not only important to know how to use (naloxone), but how to handle a situation that calls for using it,” Lehman said.

The training, which was only scheduled for 30 minutes, lasted over an hour after audience questions, and Lehman was happy with the turnout and the questions the students asked.

“(The students) really delved into the actual problem and what they are seeing in their own communities or in surrounding communities,” Lehman said.

Opioid addiction remains a huge problem in not only Portage County, but in the state of Ohio. Since 2007, unintentional drug poisoning is the leading cause of injury or death in Ohio. This issue also has a huge affect on younger people, as 96.5 percent of addiction cases originate with substance use before the age of 21, according to the presentation.

“We’ve had so many people come to us after using this training and thank us because it helped them save a life,” Lehman said.

The 30-minute Project Dawn classes are held every Monday with four classes from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and every Tuesday with four classes from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. They are also held every third Tuesday evening of the month at 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The classes are held at the Portage County Health District in Ravenna, Ohio.

Jacob Majka is the College of Communications and Information reporter. Contact him at [email protected].