For Kerry Strickland, educating the community about how to save someone from an opioid overdose is bittersweet.
Strickland lost her son, Jordan, to a heroin overdose in 2015. He was 24 at the time.
Now, Strickland is using her own loss as a building block to help others deal with addiction and recovery through a nonprofit organization she founded, called Jordan's Hope for Recovery.
Nearly 50 people turned out to the Sacagawea Health Center in St. Helens Tuesday, Feb. 26, for a community educational event hosted jointly by Jordan's Hope and Columbia Health Services. During the event, the public could learn how to use Naloxone, the life-saving drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Naloxone, which is also manufactured as Narcan, has been embraced by law enforcement agencies in Columbia County. Jordan's Hope has helped train many of them on how to use the medication. The Columbia County Sheriff's Office was the most recent to outfit its deputies with rescue injectors.
Tuesday marked the first time an event was held in the county to train the general public on the use of the overdose medicine. Each person who showed up was given a kit to take home, complete with gloves, a sterile wipe, and two Evzio auto-injector cartridges of Naloxone, thanks to grant funding Jordan's Hope acquired for the kits.
"Jordan was a champion in recovery. I wanted to continue his battle and honor his memory," Strickland says, "and connect people with resources and change the stigma of this disease."
During the two-hour training event, Sydoney Blackmore, a Columbia Health Services employee, was one of 47 people who sat and watched a brief tutorial video on a tablet before being given a trainer version of an Evzio dose.
"It's pretty simple," Strickland said, as she and volunteer Jenna King showed Blackmore and others how to uncap the cartridge and press the top against the thigh muscles. "It goes through most clothing, with the exception of really thick material like Carharts or something."
As Blackmore uncapped the auto-injector, a digital recording came on, giving step-by-step instructions on how to use the device. After a five second countdown, the process was finished.
"It worked out to where Kerry and Jenna were able to come to Columbia County and help us with this community event," says Heather Oliver, prevention coordinator for CHS. "It's something we've been wanting to do."
Jordan's Hope offers links and resources to Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, but the group also seeks to address safety issues of those who are still in the throes of addiction. The Astoria-based organization reports 46 successful overdose reversals since it began administering Naloxone to clients at a needle exchange program.
"There's a lot of family members and loved ones [of addicts] out there who need this," Strickland says. "It's a great way to save lives."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.