Editor’s note: This is a follow-up story to last Tuesday’s Stop the Opidemic: A Community Solution meeting held at Tooele’s Community Learning Center. A front-page story about that meeting was printed in last Thursday’s edition.
Dr. Jennifer Plumb and her brother Sam Plumb are passionate about providing Naloxone rescue kits to people throughout Utah. Naloxone is used as an antidote for opiate and opioid overdose.
Dr. Plumb spoke to health and law enforcement professionals and others last Tuesday night in Tooele about the “frightening and skyrocketing” incidence of opioid and heroin overdoses in Tooele County and throughout the state. She praised the use of Naloxone as an antidote.
In July 2015 the sister-brother team founded the Utah Naloxone organization to get the word out about its benefits. Dr. Plumb is the Utah Naloxone medical director and Sam Plumb is the manager of Utah Naloxone. The University of Utah provides an office for the organization. Dr. Plumb also is assistant professor of pediatrics at the U and a physician of pediatric emergency medicine.
“We are so involved because we lost our brother Andy in 1996 from a heroin overdose when he was 22 years old,” Sam Plumb said. “I was 8 and my sister was just starting med school. He (Andy) had been sober for a long time, but ‘his friends’ noticed that something was wrong but did not call 911. Naloxone has been around since the 1960s. It would have saved his life.”
Sam Plumb said Utah Naloxone has provided 6,700 naloxone kits since July 2015.
“Over 700 lives have been saved, and we’ve trained over 40 different law enforcement agencies how to use the kits,” he said.
Grantsville City police and Tooele County Sheriff’s deputies now carry Naloxone after they received training last December.
“I don’t agree with people having to pay for an addiction problem with their life,” said Tooele County Sheriff Paul Wimmer at the time. “I’m very much an advocate of having it readily available not only to us, but I think if you have a family member that’s at risk, I encourage the public to look into having it on hand.”
Dr. Plumb said naloxone works by neutralizing the opioids in the system to help victims breathe again. It only works if opioids are present in the victim’s body.
Common signs of an overdose include: The victim won’t wake up even if you shake them or say their name, breathing slows or even stops, lips and fingernails turn blue or gray, and their skin gets pale and clammy.
According to information at www.utahnaloxone.org, there are six steps when dealing with an opioid overdose: 1. Call 911 and tell them someone is not breathing. 2. Administer naloxone. 3. Provide rescue breathing. 4. Place the person on the side in the event of vomiting. 5. Administer second dose of naloxone after three minutes if needed. 6. Remain with them until emergency medical services arrive.
“The loss of our brother Andy inspired the creation of Utah Naloxone,” Dr. Plumb said.
Sam Plumb added, “The night our brother died was the first time many would see our father cry. As the only hero a little brother had ever known was overdosing on opiates, and slowly dying, his friends left him in the basement, buried the paraphernalia and remaining drugs in the front yard, and left. 911 was not called, Naloxone was never there, and he was not give the chance to survive that Naloxone provides.”
Naloxone kits are available at the Tooele County Health Department, according to Amy Bate, public information officer.
Sam Plumb said kits are also available by calling 385-495-9050 or email UtahNaloxone@gmail.com.