MANSFIELD -- Anne Joudrey and Allison Loeber spent a cold, brisk Saturday afternoon offering to save lives.
The two women, part of Harm Reduction Ohio, spent three hours in Central Park distributing free doses of Narcan -- both the nasal spray and intramuscular injection.
Narcan counteracts opioid overdose, especially when the drug is mixed with fentanyl and/or carfentanil.
"Richland County and Mansfield are struggling from an opioid epidemic," said Joudrey, a Mansfield resident working to establish a local version of Harm Reduction Ohio, which is based in Granville.
"We wanted to connect people with a life-saving opportunity," she said.
Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose by blocking the effects of opiates on the brain and by restoring breathing. It will only work if a person has opiates in their system.
"There are not a lot of harm reduction services in this area," said Loeber. "We are trying to make things more accessible.
Since most accidental overdoses occur in a home setting, Narcan was developed for first responders, as well as family, friends, and caregivers — with no medical training required.
Both the nasal spray and the intramuscular injection are equally effective, Loeber said.
"It's just a personal preference on how you want to administer it," she said. "If someone tells us they don't know how to use it, we can explain it and answer any questions they have."
The powerful fentanyl and/or carfentanil, mixed with the heroin and other opioids, can make it tough for even Narcan to overcome, requiring multiple doses.
"We recommend administering a second does if the person doesn't wake up in two or three minutes," Loeber said.
The two women brought 96 boxes of nasal spray and 50 inter-muscular injections for distribution on Saturday. Narcan is also available for free on the organization's website.