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Community Partners Join to Spread Safety Awareness

Members of the La Cañada Flintridge community learned about the dangers of opioid use, how easily overdose can happen with drugs like fentanyl and how to control bleeding before help arrives at a Drug Take Back event on April 27 at La Cañada High School.
In a collaborative effort to educate the community, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, USC Institute for Addiction Science and others held a Narcan training, distribution and prescription opioid take back event.
About 30-40 people from the community attended the event, where 22.4 pounds of leftover prescription opioid medications from participants was collected for safe disposal.
The event also trained 25 community members in how to deliver Narcan and stop bleeding. About 224 doses of Narcan were given to participants.
Resident and pediatric surgeon at CHLA, Dr. Lorraine Kelley-Quon, was at the forefront of the event. She said she was inspired to organize it while being part of a research lab dedicated to studying opioid use in pediatric populations.
After realizing that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take Back Day was also approaching, Kelley-Quon thought it was perfect timing. With some advice from the research team at the University of Michigan, organizers started to collaborate and plan the logistics of putting on the event for the first time.
“This is the first time that we’re doing it in [La Cañada Flintridge] and in L.A.,” said Kelley-Quon. “Our hope is that we can partner with other entities in Los Angeles, potentially other school districts and do this at multiple schools.”
April 27 was the 26th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which aims to provide safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.
Also being a principal investigator for the CHLA Health Outcomes and Policy Effects (HOPE) Lab, and a faculty member of the Institute for Addiction Science at USC, Kelley-Quon thought it would be a great idea to involve the entities and provide doses of Narcan to the public.
“One of the key takeaways is that this is part of being a safe citizen, and knowing what Narcan is, when to administer it and having it in your home [in] your first aid kit,” said Kelley-Quon. “Many of us are CPR certified, [and] this is just a small step in addition to that, to know how to rescue someone and save their life in the case of an opioid overdose.”
The Stop the Bleed program was also at the event to teach the basics of how to control bleeding before paramedics arrive at a scene, using pressure and a tourniquet.
CHLA Trauma Program Manager Allison Fell told the Outlook Valley Sun that just like Narcan, learning how to control bleeding can be a way for the general public to get involved and save someone from bleeding to death.
“It is one of our missions to do community outreach and provide safety and injury prevention training opportunities,” said Fell. “It’s also a requirement for us as a trauma center to provide that training. But it’s sort of a personal passion of mine because this is really basic first aid, it’s much easier than even CPR.”
The program’s goal is to train as many people and different organizations as possible and encourage people to have a tourniquet included in their first aid kit. Since its launch in 2017, the program has trained 3 million people worldwide and held 134,510 in-person courses. Their goal is to teach 200 million people.
“My hope is that for the next generation, this is just something that everyone knows,” said Fell.
Fell said that although tourniquets were frowned upon as a tool for the public 20 years ago, recent research has shown that you can leave a tourniquet for up to six hours without having permanent injury.
The program holds community events and collaborates with other trauma centers to provide as much training as possible but Fell said this is the first time that the organization is partnering with a medication take back event.
“I saw this event, and I thought … I could do back-to-back training because administering Narcan is very simple, and as long as you have a group that’s interested in safety and helping protect their community, [we could also teach them about bleeding control],” said Fell.
Fell said the group is happy to come teach at schools, community organizations, or religious organizations, businesses, and really anyone who’s interested. They also have an online course available on their website.
“Our goal is to train every American in basic bleeding control techniques and to work tirelessly toward placing bleeding control kits in every public venue, including schools, community centers, places of worship, and stadiums,” reads the Stop The Bleed website.
Overall, Kelley-Quon said that the event felt like a positive one for those who attended.
“Many people reached out before and during the event to express their gratitude for our efforts to make La Cañada a safer place for everyone,” said Kelley-Quon. “I was particularly impressed by the number of parents who brought their children with them so that they could learn about drug overdose and how to administer Narcan. One mother remarked that it was a great opportunity for her to start having those conversations with her son who was just now learning about the risks of substance use.”
Kelley-Quon added that she was approached by parents in the Los Angeles area who were interested in having a similar event at their local high school, and that volunteers were eager to start planning the next event.
LCHS Principal James Cartnal said he was also happy to see the community engage in an event like this.
“The opioid and Narcan training event on April 27 was successful on several fronts,” said Cartnal. “…It was a great example of the power of community partnerships, with the school lending its facilities to offer a service that benefits the entire community. Thank you to the volunteers and participants, to USC Keck Medicine and all the community partners that brought this successful event to life.”
For more information on Stop The Bleed, visit stopthebleed.org. To learn more about Take Back Day, visit dea.gov/takebackday.

Photo by Mia Alva Outlook Valley Sun

First published in the May 2 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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