In the event of an opioid overdose, quick intervention can save a life. That’s why 16 businesses, municipal offices and other venues in the Town and Village of New Paltz have volunteered to host indoor emergency naloxone stations for some time now: Bacchus Restaurant, The Bakery, the Elting Memorial Library, Karma Road, McGillicuddy’s, New Paltz Town Hall, the New Paltz Police Department, the New Paltz Community Center, the New Paltz Highway Department, the New Paltz Youth Center, the Visitors’ Center at One EPIC Place, P&G’s, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Schatzi’s Pub, Snug Harbor and the Water Street Market.
It’s a valuable public service, to be sure, but these sites all share one drawback: They’re not open 24/7, and overdoses often occur late at night. So, the members of the New Paltz Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response Team (NPOOPRT) – including the New Paltz Police Department, New Paltz Rescue Squad, New Paltz Youth Program, Office for Community Wellness, Institute for Family Health, NP Safe and Family of New Paltz – jointly decided to launch a new initiative that will make naloxone kits available in easily accessible outdoor locations anytime they’re needed. Two of them are already installed, with eight more to come in the near term.
Modeled after Little Free Libraries and painted bright red for instant visibility, the ten insulated wooden boxes were built and donated by the Woodcrest Bruderhof community. Each one will house an emergency opioid overdose reversal medication kit (the drug naloxone) – including instructions for safe use – and have a red flag that can be lifted to alert NPOORT members that a refill is needed. These stations will be monitored by volunteers on a daily basis.
“The idea for this unique effort was ‘born’ during a NPOOPRT meeting where we were discussing ways that we could improve our efforts and increase access to naloxone within New Paltz, particularly outdoor locations where an overdose may occur or someone may encounter someone in need of help,” said Phoenix R. Kawamoto, MSW, director of the Town of New Paltz Office for Community Wellness (OCW). “A great deal of time and effort went into researching and designing these units, as well as obtaining necessary materials, followed by their construction, finishing and installation. These outdoor emergency opioid overdose stations are the result of a truly exceptional community collaboration.”
The first two outdoor emergency opioid overdose stations have been installed outside of the New Paltz Community Center at 3 Veterans’ Drive and by the new footbridge near the lower parking lot of the Moriello Pool at 32 Mulberry Street. The remaining eight stations will be installed within the coming weeks in “high-traffic pedestrian areas,” including several locations along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail between Sojourner Truth Park and Mulberry Street, as well as in Hasbrouck Park.
“The members of the NPOOPRT worked together to identify public locations with different types and levels of risk (foot traffic, locations where overdoses have occurred in the past, ‘off the beaten path’ or more remote depending on time of day, proximity to apartment complexes et cetera), as well as the ability to install due to being on Town and/or Village property where we could obtain permission to install,” Kawamoto explained. “Once the units are installed, we will update. Sometimes there may be tree roots or other complications that may require a location change.”
Each station has printed signage, donated by the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, that includes information and instructions on how to administer Naloxone. Those who use the emergency kit are asked to lift the red flag on the unit, as well as send a text with the number on the front of the unit to (845) 275-5413.
Providing the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, as well as increasing access and availability to other harm-reduction resources such as fentanyl test strips, is part of a comprehensive plan of evidence-based and best practices to prevent opioid overdoses that has been created in collaboration with numerous organizations, first responders, law enforcement agencies and treatment providers within Ulster County. Organizations within the Town or Village of New Paltz who are interested in having an indoor emergency naloxone station installed – including apartment complex owners or landlords as well as business owners – are encouraged to contact Kawamoto at (845) 275-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ulster County organizations outside of the New Paltz service area can also call and will be referred to the appropriate person.
These stations are available free of charge as part of NPOORT’s collaboration with the Ulster County Department of Health. Replacement kits for all stations are made available, also free of charge, through the New Paltz Rescue Squad, which serves as New Paltz’s primary opioid overdose prevention program (OOPP) through the New York State Department of Health’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Program initiative.
According to Kawamoto, the exact locations of the remaining outdoor naloxone stations will be announced shortly. “I am extremely grateful to the multitude of organizations within New Paltz, like the Woodcrest Bruderhof community and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, who enthusiastically donate their time, talents and resources to help make this extraordinary community opioid overdose prevention effort possible here.”