Free Narcan Distribution Doesn't Sit Well With Community Members

A community Narcan distribution in the Lewisburg Fire Department parking lot did not go over well with some residents last week, prompting a heated response from Fire Chief Joseph Thomas.

On April 7, representatives of Seneca Mental Health set up in the fire department parking lot on Route 219 North to distribute free Narcan to anyone who wished to have it.

According to event organizer and recovery support specialist for Seneca Mental Health, Jo Chestnut, the distribution took place from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

During the distribution, 27 kits were handed out, Chestnut said. Each kit contains two doses of 2mg Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, complete with an auto-injector.

When the kit is opened and ready for use, a recorded voice walks a person through each step. The auto-injector is placed against a person’s outer thigh and a needle is deployed, Chestnut explained. Once the Narcan has been administered, the needle safely retracts back into the unit.

Due to the ease of use, these kits can be beneficial for anybody willing to save a life.

Business owners, family members and those in the community were at the distribution to collect the kits, and learn more about them, Chestnut said.

Even though this distribution was a last-minute decision, Chestnut stated she felt as if it were needed in the community.

In the last three to four weeks, at least three people have overdosed resulting in death, Chestnut said. The most recent death was a well-known person in the community who just couldn’t get away from demons.

The majority of drug overdoses in the area result from fentanyl-laced heroin, but some have happened as a result of using pure fentanyl, Chestnut continued.

“We wanted to be proactive and get out in the community,” Chestnut said.

That day, there were no real issues during the distribution, according to Chestnut. However, the next day, Thomas wrote the following message in a Facebook post:

“For the members of the community that are upset that the Lewisburg Fire Department assisted with a free Narcan Distribution yesterday, we want you to know we had nothing to do with this event other than allowing the workers from Seneca Mental Health the use of our parking lot.

I would like to address the numerous complaints that I have taken over this event and let members of the community know how disappointed I am in many of you.

Whether you like it or not, the Lewisburg Fire Department is here to serve and protect ALL citizens of our community. It disappoints me to have people say we should not help people that overdose.

I realize these people may have caused their own harm, but when we as a society lose compassion to the point just to say let them die, I ask you what group of people will be next in line.

I have to admit we do sometimes get tired of having repetitive offenders, but I will make the promise that we will do everything in our power to save anyone we are able to save.

I ask anyone that has an issue with Seneca handing out free Narcan to please stop complaining and do something productive about this issue! Blowing the Lewisburg Fire Departments Facebook page up with complaints and calling me to complain about this issue is not going to make me or my members do OUR JOB any differently.

As for the people who have the complaint of “where is my free medicine?”, I am sorry the government has not decided to hand your medicine out free yet. I promise if they do, the Lewisburg Fire Department will allow that medicine to be handed out in our parking lot as well. Until then, remember, the members of the Lewisburg Fire Department are here to serve the community. We do not have control over what medications are to be given away.

Please contact your government representatives if you would like to complain about this issue. If you do not get satisfaction when you contact them, I suggest you remember that when you cast your ballot next time.”

Chestnut concluded that she will not let the opinions of others deter her from conducting free Narcan distributions around Greenbrier County in the future.

“Nobody gave up on me,” Chestnut, who is four years clean, said. “I am not giving up on them.”


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