Opioid 'Rescue Kits' Installed Around Northampton, Mass.

Dec 11, 2019

Health leaders in Northampton, Massachusetts, have installed public supplies of naloxone to save more people from opioid overdoses.

Naloxone — also called Narcan — binds to the opioid receptors in someone who's overdosing, which allows them to breathe again.

Overdoses often happen in public places such as café restrooms or outdoor alleyways.

So the Northampton Health Department decided to install what are called "naloboxes" — or opioid rescue kits — at public places around the city, including city hall, the library, and the police department.

"There's no lock. That's on purpose," said Northampton police officer Justin Hooten as he opened a hard plastic case hanging on the lobby wall.

The box includes a breathing mask and three containers of Narcan nose spray, next to instructions on how to use it.

An opioid rescue kit includes includes a breathing mask, containers of Narcan nose spray and instructions.
Credit Karen Brown / NEPR
Instructions on how to use the Narcan in the opioid rescue kits.
Credit Karen Brown / NEPR

"If someone wants to walk in here, and just thinks they need Narcan, they can take it out, no questions asked," Hooten said.

According to the ciy health department, the rescue kits were first developed in Rhode Island, and are meant to serve a similar purpose as heart defibrillators in public places. 

The city paid for the kits with a federal grant, and said the Narcan will remain free to the public "while funds last."