25 Apr CITC Employee Saves Life with Narcan
Three CITC staff members came to the aid of an individual suffering from drug overdose
Ronald Shugak always carries Narcan. On March 8, his habit saved a life.
A CITC cultural Peer Support specialist, Ronald takes two busses to the office every workday, transferring at Anchorage’s Downtown Transit Center. That Wednesday, at about 7 a.m., as he was waiting for his second bus, a group of three people caught his eye.
“They walked past me, and a moment later, they had stopped and were clustered together over an individual on the ground. I immediately went over to help,” he described. “Looking at the person, I honestly thought he was dead.”
Ronald checked for a pulse as a bystander dialed 911. Suspecting an overdose, Ronald also retrieved his Narcan kit.
Narcan, also known as naloxone, is a lifesaving medication that’s designed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It’s simple to administer, and it works in mere minutes. Anyone can purchase Narcan nasal spray directly from a pharmacy.
In 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General called for increased availability of naloxone to help address the country’s opioid epidemic. CITC began building and distributing Narcan kits as part of the Recovery and Addiction Services department’s work toward preventing drug misuse in 2018. This February, CITC’s Peer Support and Prevention teams provided 1,000 Narcan kits with partner agencies, and they hold ongoing Narcan builds to provide kits for use by CITC employees and others.
Ronald had received a Narcan kit from CITC when he first joined the Recovery Services department last December. “That was a thing I wished I would never have to use, but I’m glad I carry it with me now,” he said.
As soon as Ronald administered the first dose of Narcan, the individual gasped, though he remained unconscious. Over speakerphone, the 911 operator instructed Ronald to begin CPR.
Meanwhile, two other CITC employees had noticed Ronald’s efforts. When Alix Anelon, a CITC administrative assistant, saw what was happening, she flagged down a nearby police car for help. A second CITC employee who wished to remain anonymous offered to help Ronald provide CPR.
With the paramedics on their way, Ronald administered the second dose of Narcan.
“It’s amazing how quickly Narcan works,” he said. “It’s a nasal administration, and it’s very easy to do—anybody can do it.”
Soon, paramedics arrived and took over care of the individual. A firefighter on the scene gave Ronald a new Narcan kit to replace the one he had used to save a life.
Ronald immediately put the kit in his backpack.
“Never in my life did I think I’d be doing something like that,” he shared. “It’s definitely a life-changing experience. You go through life wishing you never have to use your CPR training, but when you’re face to face with an emergency, it comes in handy.”
CITC provides Narcan kits for anyone who wants one, on a first-come, first-served basis. To request a kit, please contact the Recovery Services Peer Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 907.793.3200. To learn more about Narcan, visit narcan.com. You can also explore CITC’s Recovery and Addiction Services here.