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Free Narcan now available through Emily’s Hope

todayMay 7, 2024 2

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – From 2020 to 2022, 219 people died from a drug overdose in South Dakota; 33% of those deaths were caused by fentanyl. Today, on National Fentanyl Awareness Day, one organization is taking steps to prevent more deaths by overdose in the state. 

Emily’s Hope, a non-profit helping remove the stigma of substance use and addiction, has installed a Narcan dispenser box inside the Jones421 building in Downtown Sioux Falls. The boxes are free to take.

“Anybody can just pick up Narcan and we encourage everyone to carry it,” Emily’s Hope Founder and CEO Angela Kennecke said. “It is not just for people who use illicit drugs to carry. It is for everyone to carry. There have been overdoses and people saved in grocery store bathrooms, in the middle of traffic, all kinds of places, so it is a good idea.”

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Narcan, or Naloxone, is a nasal spray that can quickly block the effects of opiates, restore breathing and reverse an overdose. Emily’s Hope included a QR code on their dispenser box to instructions on how to administer Narcan. 

“I feel like I’m just shouting from the rooftops about this issue, trying to save lives,” Kennecke said. “This epidemic just keeps getting worse and worse. Fentanyl is now the number one killer of people ages 18 to 45,” Emily’s Hope founder Angela Kennecke said.  

Emily’s Hope currently has one box in the Jones421 building and are working with the city to find a place for the second box. Kennecke said Narcan must be stored in a temperature-controlled area or it may not work. The medicine can be frozen and rethawed, but it can’t get too hot. 

“It would be out in the summer sun, it could get up to 110 degrees behind glass like that, so it has to be in a temperature-controlled area,” Kennecke said. 

Along with the free Narcan dispensers, Emily’s Hope also gives out free fentanyl testing strips to help with harm reduction. The testing strips can be found in bars, tattoo shops, halfway houses, public restrooms and anywhere else that will take them.

“It is one way to keep people alive,” Kennecke said. “We’d like to stop all illicit drug use altogether because it is very dangerous and can be deadly, but this is one way to keep people alive.”

According to Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum, the SFPD is seizing record amounts of fentanyl last year with the Sioux Falls Drug Area Task Force in cooperation with the DEA. 

“We will not seize our way out of this. We will not arrest our way out of this,” Thum said. “There can only be so many boxes in Narcan, right? We all have to work on it collectively to say that we’re going to make positive change in our community and defy some of the national trends.”

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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