Local leader calling for public Narcan access at overdose hotspot

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Chair of the Police Accountability Board Shani Wilson, who is also a physician assistant, is trying to draw greater attention to the opioid crisis.

Wilson lives by the RTS transit center on North Clinton Ave. in the city. She says twice recently, she’s had to use ‘Narcan’ someone overdosing on her way to work. 

“It really just speaks to how the opioid crisis is here in the center city,” she says.

Narcan is a nasal spray designed for community use. When applied, it can save the life of someone overdosing on drugs. 

“I’m on my third bag of Narcan, just in the past three months,” she says. Wilson used her own Narcan– but says the medicine needs to be more available in public places like the RTS center. 

“What I would like is in the bus station for there to be a box on the wall, just like you have an AED machine,” she says.

She’s been talking to the community about it, and the response has been receptive. “People understand this is a crisis; we have to actually treat it like one,” adds Wilson.

A spokesman for RTS said today, “We are aware of Ms. Wilson’s social media post about helping someone outside the RTS Transit Center and she should be commended for being able to help. Unfortunately, we too have encountered similar situations where members of the RTS team at the Transit Center have helped individuals by administering Narcan. Many members of our team at the Transit Center have been trained in the use of Narcan and we have it on hand for when it is needed. We have been working with the addiction services team from the Monroe County Health Department, as well as the County’s homeless initiative team since 2018 on this issue. We have regular conversations with community leaders to do our part to address this addiction crisis.”

While employees have been trained on the use of Narcan, and have it on hand, RTS says they don’t have it readily available to the public due to fear of theft or misuse.

Either way, Wilson says Narcan is free, and action needs to happen; the overdoses that happen here are the worst in the city. “They have the most concentration of overdoses here than anywhere else in Rochester,” she says.

The opioid crisis is so bad according to Wilson, she’s also hoping that RTS can carry Narcan on its fleet of buses. Wilson is also calling on the community to get trained on how to use Narcan, and to carry on their person in case of an emergency.

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