New legislation could put Narcan in the hands of librarians

Published: Nov. 28, 2018 at 4:09 AM EST
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New legislation making its way through the Senate could put Narcan in the hands of librarians, in hopes to reduce drug overdoses in libraries.

The legislation, sponsored by Grand Ledge Sen. Rick Jones and Margaret O'Brien, of Kalamazoo, would add libraries to the list of those who can administer the drug.

Seeing a man overdose was a sad and scary moment that librarian Michelle Brussow said will always stay with her.

The incident happened around five years ago at Capital Area District Library's South Lansing branch.

"You want to help somebody, but we're not prepared to help people. We just sat with him and held his hand. He was out cold. He still had a needle in his arm," said Brussow, who is head librarian at the district's downtown branch.

Under the proposed law, the librarians wouldn't be held liable. Right now under state law, only law enforcement, first responders and schools can administer the potentially life-saving drug.

"That's a huge responsibility," Brussow said. "Who doesn't want to save somebody's life? But I don't want to make it worse."

Earlier this year, three people overdosed within two weeks of each other in the basement of CADL's downtown branch.

To prevent further drug use on its premises, the district increased foot traffic in the basement and locked the bathroom doors during low-use hours. Since then, the staff hasn't had a problem.

Scott Duimstra, executive director of CADL, said that if the proposal were to pass, it's something he and his staff would have to consider heavily.

"It's not as easy as just administering it and everything's fine. There's a lot of training that needs to be involved with actually how to administer it," he said.

The legislation doesn't provide funding to supply the Naloxone. Libraries would have to apply for grants or find an alternative way to pay for it.

A Senate committee approved the legislation Tuesday, and it now heads to the Senate for review.

Jones said he expects it to pass on to the House by the end of the week and said he hopes it will become law by the end of the year.