Narcan boxes to be installed on OPT buses

May 17—After a passenger overdosed while riding an Oneonta Public Transit bus two weeks ago, city officials coordinated with the Oneonta Narcan Initiative Team to acquire Narcan kits for the entire fleet of OPT buses.

OPT bus driver Kathy Winans was driving the Southside route on May 9 when a passenger alerted her to another passenger who was slumped over in his seat.

He soon fell to the bus floor.

"We called 911," Winans said. "The cops gave him Narcan and performed CPR. They got him back after about half an hour, and he was acting like nothing had even happened."

In response to the incident, Oneonta Police Chief Christopher Witzenburg discussed with Oneonta Public Transit Director David Hotaling about how the buses often travel outside of where there is a consistent law enforcement presence.

With staff shortages, it may take even longer for help to arrive, affecting victims and drivers.

"Being part of the Narcan Initiative Team, I realized the ONEboxes could be a solution to that," Witzenburg said Friday, May 17.

"OPT gives half a million rides every year," he added. "Having access to that can be a game changer."

Sara Robinson, LEAF PAXIS project coordinator and prevention specialist, delivered six ONEbox kits to Hotaling Friday and more are on the way.

Hotaling said the kits should be installed in all 21 buses by the end of next week.

All bus drivers will have the opportunity to receive Narcan administration training, but it won't be mandatory, he said.

Winans, who has been an OPT bus driver for 18 years, said she probably will take the training.

ONEbox kits containing naloxone — brand name Narcan — a drug that reverses the effects of opioids during an overdose when administered via nasal spray.

Under a flap, the boxes provide a 60-second video in English and Spanish with step-by-step instructions, which can be replayed, describing how to administer Narcan to a person who has overdosed.

The boxes also contain personal protective equipment in case mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is needed.

Green pull-up seals secure the boxes and lets people know if the box has been opened and the Narcan possibly used or taken.

The boxes have been places at Oneonta city and town municipal buildings, music venues, health facilities and transportation centers.

SUNY Oneonta Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services Director Lakisha Mason said that she's working on getting 90 ONEboxes to install throughout the university's 14 residence halls.

She also wants to acquire them for the fraternity and sorority houses, as well as other off-campus housing.