NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – According to the Metro Public Health Department (MPHD), 142 people died from suspected drug overdoses in the first quarter of 2023.
During that same time, EMS workers responded to over 1,300 suspected overdoses throughout Davidson County.
Because of this “overdose” pandemic, even downtown bars and night spots are doing something that’s never been done before.
As part of a pilot program, 30 establishments have agreed to equip their locations with opioid emergency kits.
The kits consist of gloves, a mask, and two 8-milligram applicators filled with naloxone, a drug that quickly reverses the affects of an overdose.
Though the exact numbers are not available, people do and have overdosed in downtown bars.
Starting Friday, May 19, 30 downtown night spots are going to put emergency naloxone kits in their bars so anyone can save a life.
Once opened, the automated boxes instruct the user through a video on how to use the naloxone and assist the patient.
Jack Byrd runs Solaren Risk Management; the company employs dozens of licensed security professionals who patrol the downtown sector along with the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD).
“It’s just like an AED box, but in this instance it is an automated box whereby you fold it down and it starts talking like an AED would,” Byrd said.
Like MNPD officers, Byrd said all his personnel are trained and carry naloxone, but they can’t always be in the right place at the right time, which is why having these kits on the wall at bars and restaurants is so key.
“The same way they could access an AED is the same way they could access this. By and large, this is a life saving resource we want available to everyone,” Byrd said.
Byrd’s company has been working closely with the downtown businesses and Gibson Guitars, whose charitable division TEMPO (training and empowering musicians to prevent overdoses), has been instrumental in funding the kits and getting them in place for Friday’s debut.
“I am really excited about it. It’s a tool we did not have before; we were put in situations where we had to watch and wait, but now we have the opportunity to impact lives. We have the chance to help and intervene when people are experiencing an overdose,” Byrd said.
Each kit costs about $350. The first phase includes 30 units. Byrd said if successful, the next phase will include approximately 50 more kits going into more downtown businesses and bars.
TEMPO’s slogan is, “Losing even one musician to overdose is too many. It must stop.”
MNPD issued the following statement to News 2 on Thursday, May 18:
“The opioid epidemic has not slowed down and is claiming the lives of Nashvillians every week. Last year, there were more than 750 fatal overdoses in our city. Every MNPD officer is trained on how to administer naloxone and is equipped with two doses in an effort to save lives, but the more doses of naloxone that can be distributed to our community partners could be another life saved from an overdose. We’re grateful to Gibson Gives for their initiative to spread these kits across Music City.”
“When an opioid overdose happens, using naloxone quickly and correctly can often be the difference between life and death. Initiatives like this can help save lives, and we applaud this effort,” MPHD added.