ANTWERP, New York (WWNY) – With the soaring number of overdose deaths, communities in northern Jefferson County are taking action by equipping residents with something free to save lives.

First responders in the Theresa, Antwerp, and Philadelphia areas have noticed drug overdose numbers are getting worse.

That’s why Indian River Ambulance Service has partnered with the north country’s Anchor Recovery Center to give CPR training and free Narcan kits to the public.

Narcan is a medication used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

“If we can get in and the family can provide Narcan and CPR prior to our arrival, the outcome is far better than if all of that stuff is delayed,” said Lance Ronas, chief executive officer, Indian River Ambulance Service.

He says fentanyl is one of the biggest dangers.

“That stuff is oftentimes fatal to mix into any of this stuff. It’s not just mixed into heroin. It’s mixed into marijuana, the edibles, and things like that,” said Ronas.

The goal is to also teach people to recognize an overdose.

“So when you come upon somebody maybe that looks like they’re shallow breathing, their lips are blue, they might be unconscious or could be conscious, kinda laying on the ground, just not moving,” said Kelly Wright, Anchor Recovery Center director.

Wright says the signs are important to notice before using Narcan.

Antwerp Mayor Jonathan Cole says these skills are so important for the community to learn.

“These communities are all so small and close-knit that if you’re not directly family, you’re like family. And to be able to have these skills to potentially save either a family member’s life or someone who’s close to you who’s like family, it really is just a wonderful asset to have.”

Training is underway and Narcan kits are being distributed.

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