The Blackfeet Tribal Council met Wednesday to discuss the implementation of NARCAN throughout the Blackfeet Reservation. NARCAN is a fast-acting medicine which counteracts the effects of opioid overdose, and is administered via a nasal spray.
The Tribal Council came to the conclusion that NARCAN will be available to administer in all tribal offices, but also in schools, hotels and their casino, Glacier Peaks. Not only will it be widely available but all employees working in these sectors will be trained in its use, giving them the invaluable tools to save a life.
Laura Jo Kipp, Chairwoman for the Blackfeet Gaming Commission says, “Fentanyl is here. It's everywhere. And I don't see it going away any time soon. So if we can be trying to save a life, why not?”.
Jo Kipp works closely with Glacier Peaks Casino, the site of two recently suspected fentanyl overdoses. The incident at the casino is what opened discussion amongst the Tribal Council to utilize NARCAN in the first place.
“With the second overdose, it not only affected the victim, but it also affected one of the staff members, too. They had to be transported to the hospital for emergency services,” says Business Chair for the Tribal Council, Lyle Rutherford.
Fentanyl spreads so easily that even breathing or touching a poisoned individual can result in transaction of the substance. In this case a casino staff member rushed to aid a customer who had ingested fentanyl only to inadvertently ingest the substance themselves, simply through proximity.
By having NARCAN on site, and with mandated training, the number of opioid-related deaths can be greatly mitigated. James McNeely, Director of Operations for the Blackfeet Tribe is impressed with the initiative his community is taking.
“We have to come together as a Blackfeet people to help our young people and our older people, those who are suffering from addiction to move forward. And so I think this is great that we're making this effort and there's a lot of people behind it.”