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Designed for Action: York College Student Brings NARCAN Training to Campus

April 12, 2023
A Nursing student posing in front of the fountain

At York College, students aren’t just reading textbooks and listening to lectures. They’re working on community projects, solving real-world problems, and using their education to effect change. In Designed for Action, we meet the students who are making an impact outside of the classroom.

Sarah Martin was trained to administer NARCAN, a potentially life-saving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose, at a public library near her home in Maryland. She credits her role as a Nursing major as motivation to take the training. “As a Nursing major, I know that drug abuse is something that goes hand-and-hand in healthcare,” she said. “Statistics have shown that drug abuse or overdoses occur on college campuses. This is something that as college students we need to be aware of.”

As an Eisenhart Community Scholar, Sarah was compelled to share this training with her fellow York College students. “I build relationships with community members, find a need in the community or on campus, and help to implement change,” she said. “With my involvement as a Scholar, I was able to make this project happen.”

Bringing Training to Campus

A junior at York College, Sarah took advantage of local resources and worked with two organizations, the York Opioid Collaborative (YOC) and The RASE Project, to bring an instructor to campus for training sessions. She was able to schedule two sessions during the Fall 2022 semester in Diehl Hall.

The classes were available to students with any major, although Sarah estimates that many of those who registered were Nursing students. “The class was not limited to only Nursing students, but a lot of my outreach was to the Nursing department,” she said. “I would estimate 75% nursing, 25% other majors.”

The instructor began the training by sharing her story and journey toward recovery. She then provided information on the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose. The first step to help a victim is to call 911. Always ensure you are safe, then provide support or administer NARCAN if it is on hand or nearby.  

Students who attended the one-hour class received a NARCAN kit, which includes nasal spray to administer the drug, gloves, and a rescue-breathing mask.

Prepared to Make a Difference, Save a Life

After participating, students said they felt prepared to respond to an overdose with NARCAN.

“After the training, I am comfortable with the idea of using NARCAN to revive someone,” said Nursing major Morgan Sauers ’26. “I thought about it like training to get CPR certified. A number of people get trained to administer CPR to complete strangers in a public setting in order to help save their lives. Getting certified to administer NARCAN to someone who overdoses would be the same concept.”

“I signed up because as a Nursing student, I feel knowing how to properly administer NARCAN and save a life in the matter of seconds just through a simple class–open to all–is valuable,” said Nursing major Khushi Iyer ‘24. “I am comfortable now with the idea of using NARCAN to revive someone in any situation, whether that is in the hospital or out in public at a gas station, or even a family function.”

Plans for the Future

Since the sessions Martin orchestrated, progress has been made to ensure that York College students are trained to administer NARCAN and have access to it as well. Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Klaudia Cwiekala-Lewis, who teaches a Community Health course, and two other Nursing faculty have been trained by York Opioid Collaborative to instruct students on administering NARCAN. And, a supply of kits will be on hand at the College.

“We plan to make the training a requirement for all Nursing students, and have that included in the Pharmacology course,” Sarah said. “We also are planning a NARCAN training, along with a discussion about alcohol misuse, on April 12 and 19 from 7 to 8 p.m. in Weinstock Lecture Hall. We hope to draw a larger audience with all majors. Everyone can benefit from being trained, and you never know when you will be in a situation and your training saves a life.”

“I would also like to get involved in the community with this issue. NARCAN should be everywhere that an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is located, it is just as important. The future is full of possibilities, this is just the beginning. Spreading awareness is one small step that I can take as a student and community member.”

York College works with Engaged Scholars and Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows From Day One to help them form their dreams into a personal mission, which is supported with financial and other assistance. They leave York College with a record of achievement that will gain the attention of employers, graduate schools, or others who provide entry into the next step in the extraordinary lives they imagine for themselves.