SMOHIT receives grant to provide naloxone training

CPR saves lives. Defibrillators save lives. Naloxone, when administered to someone overdosing on opioids or heroin, saves lives.

The construction industry has a higher rate of opioid use due to several factors including injuries, and the overall presence of substance abuse, which has contributed to a high rate of overdose deaths due to opioids. This makes getting naloxone into the hands of SMART members across the country a necessity.

SMOHIT was recently awarded a $42,000 grant by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training to provide naloxone training and doses to members. The training is set for this year in three selected areas — Northern California, Illinois and New York — and will expand to SMART members across the country in the future.

Naloxone is an opioid-overdose reversal medication often carried by first responders and caregivers. The grant provides education and training in the recognition of an overdose and administration of naloxone as well as two doses provided for each attendee in the SMART MAP mental health sessions in those three selected areas. The grant funding was enough to purchase 1,000 units, and this effort will serve as a jumping-off point for the expansion of training and distribution of naloxone in other areas, said Chris Carlough, SMART MAP program coordinator.

“We’re finally in a place to be able to execute the grant and train thousands of first responder sheet metal workers in this life-saving drug,” he said. “This will set the tone for naloxone training long after the grant is spent, and in fact, SMOHIT is preparing to purchase naloxone for distribution at all SMART MAP trainings.”

During SMART MAP mental health sessions, mentors are prepared to guide their fellow SMART members to local mental health professionals and resources or just provide a listening ear. During the sessions, they learn how to support fellow members, discuss difficult subjects such as suicide and substance use disorder and know when it’s time to bring in mental health experts.

The sessions are led by experts and representatives of SMART and the SMOHIT Member Assistance Program team.

As stated in the grant, “The overdose reversal drug naloxone has saved countless lives that otherwise would have been lost to opioid overdose. However, this life-saving medication is not readily available throughout local unions or apprenticeship schools and many leaders and members are not aware that the medication exists.”

Like learning CPR or how to use a defibrillator, arming SMART members with the life-saving drug was a natural next step. The plan is for naloxone training to soon become a permanent part of the SMART MAP mental health sessions, Carlough said.

“The SMART MAP program has been in existence for more than a decade,” he added. “The addition of naloxone training is part of its evolution.”

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