With death rates from opioid overdoses spiraling ever higher, one would expect EMTs, police and fire personnel to know how to treat someone in crisis.
According to CNN, librarians are finding themselves increasingly on the front lines in a number of major cities in the battle to save lives in this very real public health crisis.
In Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco librarians already know or are preparing to learn how to use the lifesaving drug naloxone to help people experiencing an opioid overdose.
How is it possible that librarians need to know how to respond to an overdose crisis?
Sadly, urban libraries are often safe havens for the homeless and a vital source of community services for others and increasingly these libraries are the site of fatal overdose events.
What’s more, many of these libraries are destinations for so-called drug tourists, people that according to CNN, travel long distances seeking heroin.
In some cases, the incidence of heroin use has grown so bad that libraries have had to close for a number of days due to heroin needles clogging sewer lines.
All these factors mean life is changing for many of America’s largest library systems. Security staff now often watch for signs of visitors in distress hoping to notify library staff discreetly so that children don’t become alarmed. And bathrooms are increasingly locked with access only permitted with an ID.
All the while, librarians are living with the knowledge that they may be called at any moment to rush to the side of an addict in the hope of saving that addict’s life. Stressful to say the least.
Ultimately, access to effective treatment options may be the most valuable tool in this public health crisis. Now we have to hope that the states and the federal government continue to provide support for these services.
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