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From 2020-2021 Colorado saw 3,358 overdose deaths, as well as an increase in non-fatal overdoses. In 2021-2022 there were six overdose deaths here in Chaffee County. Narcan, or naloxone, is a drug that is used to reverse opioid overdose, and it is typically administered as a nasal spray. Beginning today, Wednesday, March 29,  the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]  officially approved the purchase of the over-the-counter Narcan, and it should become available in most pharmacies.

Just about anything can contain opioids or fentanyl. Photo by Ksenia-Yakovleva on Unsplash

“Narcan is a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids—including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications—when given in time,” says Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) Chaffee Community Clinic RN Abigail Smedly. “Studies have shown that in many situations bystanders were present during an overdose.  With the right tools – such as Narcan and the associated training – those bystanders can possibly prevent an overdose death.”

According to Chaffee County Emergency Medical Services, in 2021-2022 Narcan was administered as a response to an overdose 18 times in this county. Unreported administration of Narcan in Chaffee County is also common, as individuals often do not call emergency medical personnel when an overdose occurs.

In light of this nationwide overdose crisis, a top priority for CCPH is to educate the community on these opioid-related overdoses and provide education on preventing death from overdose by using Narcan (naloxone). Overdoses can happen to anyone who ingests opioids (orally, snorting, smoking or via injection) either purchased illegally or through a prescription. Accidental overdoses are on the rise throughout the country, and a part of that rise is due to fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is increasingly found in illicit drugs throughout the nation, including here in Chaffee County. Fentanyl can be found in many substances other than opioids, often without people’s knowledge, such as cocaine, ecstasy or molly, Adderall, heroin, methamphetamines, and street oxycodone/oxycontin. Due to the potency of fentanyl, overdose is much more likely to occur and can result in death.

Free Community Overdose Training

Chaffee County Public Health will be offering free training to the community on recognizing and responding to an opioid overdose, the importance of promptly notifying emergency medical services, and then administering Narcan (naloxone) to reverse the overdose.  This training is appropriate for all community members since anyone could respond to an opioid overdose and save a life.

The community training will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on April 13, at A Church (419 D St, Salida).  This training is for everyone, and CCPH will supply Narcan while supplies last. Everyone who attends the training will receive a certificate of training, which can be presented to CCPH to obtain more Narcan as needed.

The training is free and does not require an RSVP. However, if you have questions please contact Abigail Smedly, or Tanya Wait at

Colorado Law Allows Community Members to Administer Narcan

Laws that protect community members while administering Narcan include The Good Samaritan Law (C.R.S. §18-1-711) which states that a person is immune from criminal prosecution for an offense when the person reports, in good faith, an emergency drug or alcohol overdose event to a law enforcement officer, to the 911 system, or to a medical provider.

This same immunity applies to persons who remain at the scene of the event until a law enforcement officer or an emergency medical responder arrives, or if the person remains at the facilities of the medical provider until a law enforcement officer, emergency medical responder, or medical provider arrives. The immunity described above also extends to the person who suffered an emergency drug or alcohol overdose event.

The law that allows non-medical individuals to administer Narcan is the Third Party Naloxone (C.R.S. §18-1-71). This law allows for a person other than a health care provider or health care facility who acts in good faith to administer an opiate antagonist (Narcan) to another person whom the person believes to be suffering an opiate-related drug overdose. The laws states that an individual who administers naloxone shall be immune from criminal prosecution for such an act.