By Amanda Joerndt
Youngstown State University students in the Master of Athletic Training program and athletic trainers on campus attended a Project DAWN, Deaths Avoided with Naloxone, certification training to become qualified naloxone distributors.
Erica Horner, director of the nursing and community health division at Mahoning County Public Health, said naloxone is an opioid antagonist that can help block the effects of opioids on a person’s brain.
“If a person has taken an opioid or has ingested something with an opioid mixed in with it, it could potentially reverse those effects,” she said.
Morgan Bagley, assistant professor and interim program director for the Master of Athletic Training program, said she became interested in providing free naloxone training for her students through YSU’s nursing program. The certification was hosted by Mahoning County Public Health.
“We don’t take care of just the athletes, but we take care of anyone in the stands, coaches, parents,” she said. “I was very excited that [Mahoning County Public Health] was able to come do this for us, and now they’re equipped to not be stuck in a situation like that.”
Bagley said she hopes her students won’t feel helpless in a drug-related emergency.
“It might be a high school student, but it could also be a parent,” she said. “We’re trained to act, and we’re educated to be able to do so. … Our students have expanded their skills with practice and are able to do this.”
This was the first training session organized by YSU’s Master of Athletic Training program, and according to Bagley, she hopes it isn’t the last.
“We had almost 20 people here, so I think this is something we will continually do because the more people we can educate, the more lives we can potentially save,” she said.
Derek Bodo, a second-year graduate student in the Master of Athletic Training program, said having the naloxone certification gives him more credibility as an athletic trainer.
“It ties in with patient care in itself,” he said. “This goes for all age groups, and we’ll be better prepared for the possible case of an overdose.”
Bodo said Youngstown will always be his home and he hopes to serve his community with his athletic training education.
“In this area, I know it’s becoming an epidemic now,” he said. “As a Youngstown State University student, I can proudly say that we are continuing further for the health and benefit of all patients and individuals.”
Bodo is currently doing rotations in a doctor’s office to earn his master’s degree and said it’s good to serve more than just the athletic population.
“Now, we’re better to serve all populations, so it goes a long way in that regard,” he said.
According to mahoninghealth.org, participants in Project DAWN receive training on “identifying risk factors, recognizing the signs and symptoms, administering intranasal naloxone and calling emergency medical services.”
Horner said Project DAWN is a state-funded program in memory of a woman who died from an overdose.
She said in 2015, the program distributed seven kits to the community and in 2019, it gave out 347.
“We are well on our way to meet that and surpass that actually in 2020, and we’re only in February,” she said. “There are other efforts in the community to decrease an overdose besides naloxone. … Naloxone is only one of those activities to help decrease overdose deaths.”
Mahoning County Public Health is currently focusing on its high-risk overdose population, which are white males between the ages of 20 to 50, according to Horner.
“The majority of our efforts have been reaching those high-risk populations,” she said. “YSU students and faculty interact with many people on a daily basis, and you never know who you’ll come across or if you’re out and about in the community.”