BUCKHANNON – All 55 counties of West Virginia will participate in Save a Life Day, including six locations in Upshur County.
Save a Life Day will take place Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and people can receive Narcan training, free Naloxone (Narcan) and fentanyl testing strips. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is an opioid antagonist medication that can quickly reverse opioid overdoses.
Locations in Upshur County will include Blades and Fades Barbershop and Tattoo Studio at 10 North Spring Street; Buckhannon Community Care at 36 N. Kanawha Street; The Opportunity House at 47 Cleveland Ave.; The 180 Center Inc, Lazarus House at 52 N. Florida Street; Jawbone Park on Madison Street; and Community Care at 78 Queens Alley Rd.
“This is the first time it went statewide; they’re doing it in all 55 counties, but not all counties are receptive to it,” Upshur County Save a Life Day organizer Missy Daugherty said. “Kanawha County is huge, Mon County, they’re huge – they know it’s been happening for years, so they are more accepting and recognize this is a problem we need to do something about. Some of the smaller counties, such as Upshur, were not as accepting of it.”
Upshur County Save a Life Day organizer Kloe Tankersley said she sees people struggling with addiction frequently from her place of work at Blades and Fades.
“Where I’m located is the prime spot for addicts. I see at least five people a day out there who have used and are struggling,” Tankersley said. “It’s Main Street, it’s pretty, but you go right off the street, and there’s addicts. I think it needs to be brought to light and people’s attention needs to be brought to it, and there needs to be a drive like this, so people can realize that people are dying.”
Daugherty said there are two forms of Narcan, intravenous and nasal spray, but their tables will only offer the nasal spray.
“People are intimidated by needles; we’re not doing needles, we’re doing the nasal spray,” Daugherty said. “It’s essentially two shots in each nostril with a timeframe in between. It’s super simple. Each kit will have the ‘how to’ and we will teach them how to do it when they pick up the kit, so if they have to, God forbid, use it a week later, they’ll be able to open up the box and use it.”
Daugherty said Narcan helps awaken people who have overdosed in a variety of situations.
“It brings you back, for lack of better terms because when you overdose, your body shuts down because the brain goes and then your heart goes,” Daugherty said. “It wakes the brain and tells the heart to start pumping again.”
Tankersley said it can also be used to help college students and the fentanyl strips help people not overdose in the first place. She said fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s usually only prescribed in pharmaceutical settings for extremely severe pain, can be found in a series of substances and a user would have no way to know unless they have the test strips.
“[Fentanyl] could be in literally anything; we know that college students and other people are doing coke and other things, but if you’re going to do it, be safe and I think that the stigma needs to end with that because it’s going to happen regardless,” Tankersley said. “There are people who use straight fentanyl. I’ve had loved ones who just did straight fentanyl, but I know people have done heroin and think they’re just doing heroin and it’s straight fentanyl.”
Daugherty said she decided to participate in Save a Life Day because she wants to help save people from a preventable outcome.
“I have friends in the organization that have been hounding me since my sister passed away. I had a baby sister that overdosed in 2019 from fentanyl, and she was 27 years old, she died right up at St. Joe’s after two strangers dropped her off and claimed they didn’t know who she was,” Daugherty said. “They knew who she was. They had all her stuff and that’s what makes me want to put it in people’s faces because it was in my face, and I guarantee if you’re burying your baby sister, you will want people to carry Narcan.”
“It’s like I told the City Council this morning, I couldn’t save my sister, but if I can save your sister, I will,” she said.