The mayor has pulled together $300,000 to train SRO residents to treat overdose victims, hoping to replicate a similar program in Vancouver, British Columbia.
You can’t believe every fentanyl scare you see in the papers, as SF Weekly discovered in April that a fentanyl-laced marijuana story from 4/20 was complete bunk. But there’s no disputing that a spike in fentanyl potency has San Francisco on track to nearly double the number of fentanyl-related overdoses this year, and the local Department of Public Health estimates that 30 percent of fentanyl overdoses take place in SRO (single-room occupancy) residential hotels. Mayor Breed hopes to put a dent in that phenomenon, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city will train SRO residents and staff to treat overdoses in the critical first few moments before emergency medical personnel can arrive.
“I’ve always known people who died from overdoses, but in the past year alone it’s just shot through the roof,” SRO resident Nic Atamaniuk told the Chronicle. “I’ve had seven friends, people I was close to, die of fentanyl overdoses this last year. It’s horrible. We need help.”
The health department’s Dr. Phillip Coffin will head the program, which he calls a “tenant-run overdose response effort.” There are about 19,000 SRO rooms in San Francisco, mostly in the neighborhoods highly impacted by the street drug trade.
Mayor Breed has pulled together $300,000 in local, state and federal funding for the overdose-response training effort, which will focus on those SROs that have had fentanyl overdoses, or, as the Chronicle diplomatically puts it, “seem otherwise to be ripe for OD-prevention education.” The program would train residents and staff to administer Naloxone, an “opioid antagonist” better known as Narcan.
The Chron tells the story in the context of the above-mentioned SRO resident, whose friends saved him with Narcan “at least 30 times in the past few years.” The DPH estimates that Narcan reversed nearly 1,700 overdoses in 2018, and they expect that number to double this year.
Image: kozemchuk via Flickr