As a nurse practitioner, I want CTA stations to have Narcan to prevent opioid overdoses

The American Heart Association recommends public access to Narcan kits at select public transit locations.

SHARE As a nurse practitioner, I want CTA stations to have Narcan to prevent opioid overdoses
The State and Lake elevated CTA station.

The State and Lake elevated CTA station.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

It was around 8:30 p.m. on a Monday as I boarded the Blue Line train heading west from the Illinois Medical District station after my shift. My eyes were tired. My feet were sore. I settled in for the 15-20 minute ride home to Wicker Park.

Five minutes into the ride, a man rushed to the train operator’s door to tell them an unconscious woman was in the back of the train car. Adrenaline set in, and my exhaustion faded as I ran and found a woman I recognized, slumped in her seat. The woman was a frequent rider on the Blue Line, but I had never talked to her. She was barely responsive, with pinpoint pupils and track marks on her hands.

I shouted, “Does anyone have Narcan?!” No one did.

Narcan is an opioid blocker medication used to rapidly reverse an overdose and save a person’s life. No CTA station or train carries Narcan, and no CTA personnel would be allowed to give it, the train operator said.

Paramedics took nearly 10 minutes to arrive while the woman’s breathing slowed and she became more unresponsive.

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The American Heart Association recommends public access to Narcan kits at select public transit locations. Additionally, the Illinois Drug Overdose Prevention Program Law allows non-medical professionals, including family, friends and other community members, to administer Narcan to prevent a fatal opioid overdose without risking civil or criminal liability.

The hardest-hit communities for opioid-related overdoses in Chicago include the neighborhoods the Blue Line serves and the community members that I take care of as patients at Rush University Medical Center.

I want every CTA station to have Narcan and prevent any of my patients or neighbors from becoming a statistic.

I’m unsure what happened to that woman. If Narcan had been quickly available, I’m sure I would be seeing her on the Blue Line train today. I have not seen her since that night.

Erik McIntosh, nurse practitioner, Rush University Medical Center

Limit by age who can buy a gun

You can get a driver’s license at 16, but look at all the training and testing that is required. Even with that, you cannot drive a semi-tractor. You also can’t drive a rental car until 25.

You can buy any style of gun at 18, without tests on how to use them. Once you have them, you do not need to renew your license every four years, as with driver’s licenses.

People and situations change that could affect a person’s ability to act responsibly with cars and guns. Just because you can handle a handgun or hunting rifle does not necessarily mean you can handle an assault rifle, the same way being able to drive a car doesn’t mean you can handle a semi.

How is it Congress (in particular most Republican members) cannot see the problem here? A complete ban on assault rifles likely won’t happen, so why not add an age limit of 25 like on rental cars? Regulated classes and renewable testing wouldn’t hurt. Not perfect but a start.

John Farrell, DeKalb

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