‘The real first responders’: Homeless couple save two lives with Narcan

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – A homeless couple saved two people from a fentanyl overdose on Sunday.

The rescue measures took place a few blocks from JOLT Harm Reduction on Sheridan Road. The organization provides Narcan and drug test strips for overdose prevention and harm reduction.

Chris Schaffner, program director at JOLT Harm Reduction, said there is a lot of stigma against homelessness and homelessness.

“We make assumptions about how people present themselves to us in real time without understanding the complexity of their lives, and they are so much more than what you see in front of them,” he said.

Schaffner said homeless people, like the couple on Sunday night, are the ones who save lives.

“The reality is that these people are the real first responders. They’re armed with Narcan, and they’re there with people to the point of overdose. They literally save dozens, if not hundreds of lives every year,” he said.

Schaffner said there was a 50% decrease in fatal overdoses in 2021 compared to the previous year. He attributed the decrease to harm reduction and overdose prevention measures.

“This is happening in large part because of [people] like this couple who are on the front line. They are first responders, so knowing that we can impact someone in such a way that they take on the same responsibility of caring for others, and seeing that it pays off and has a real impact on people’s lives, is hard to describe or quantify,” he said.

JOLT moved to the new location on Sheridan Road a few weeks ago from its original location on Adams Street.

“Opening here and immediately seeing the impact of our services on this specific neighborhood continues to prove that we are headed in the right direction,” he said.

JOLT is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They recently opened a satellite site in Beijing, open Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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