Better safe than sorry: KUPS Staff trained to use Narcan

By Sara Orozco, KUPS Correspondent

“Drugs are on campus, whether we talk about it or not,” Eliana Goldberg says. Recently, Goldberg, KUPS General Manager contacted CHWS to set up a basic training in administering Naloxone, or Narcan, as it is more commonly known. Goldberg wants to stress how important this work is on our campus. “Instead of falling into a don’t ask don’t tell mentality we should make sure that as many people are educated and prepared to make our campus as safe as we can,” Goldberg said.

Narcan is a medication anyone can access at a pharmacy, and its purpose is to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It works fairly immediately and can be very effective at saving someone’s life. Some helpful folks from CHWS, Danielle Bus and Megan Martinez, came in during our Monday staff meeting to show us how Narcan is used, why it’s important, and what an overdose looks like. According to our presentation, overdoses have increased by 150% in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. It’s unclear whether our campus is seeing the same spike but it is important as members of the Tacoma community that we all think about what to do in the case of an overdose, either by someone we know or someone we come across who needs help.

Signs of an overdose can be easy to identify: look for unsteady or absent breathing, blue lips or hands, unconsciousness, small or irregularly sized pupils, and cold or clammy skin.

Once an overdose is suspected:

1. Call 911 immediately

2. Lay the person on their back (if possible; if it’s difficult to move them, just make sure that their head and neck are supported and their airway is open).

3. Administer one dose of Narcan. To administer Narcan, place the nasal spray nozzle into the person’s nostril, and press up on the plunger to administer the entire dose of the medication.

4. Place the person in the recovery position, or continue to support their head and neck.

5. If the person does not respond within 2 – 3 minutes (return to normal breathing, respond to voice/touch), administer Narcan again.

6. Stay with the person until EMS arrives.

It’s also important to note that if you are also under the influence of drugs, Washington has a law called the “Good Samaritan Law” that our campus also adheres to, which basically means that if you call 911 or campus security because someone you’re with is in peril, you won’t get in trouble for partaking in illegal drug activity yourself. Always, always prioritize getting someone the help they need. 

Now, where can you get Narcan? Unfortunately, it is not readily accessible on campus for students. However, you can access Narcan at a pharmacy, The Tacoma Moore Public Library Narcan vending machine, ordering it through the mail from, or from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department or Tacoma Needle Exchange.

KUPS is working on another community-wide training for our broader campus community and beyond. Keep an eye out for word on a wider training to learn more details on how to use Narcan and how to keep our community as safe as possible.