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Grand Rapids non-profit distributes free Narcan to prevent drug overdoses

The Red Project deployed its mobile health unit in Grand Rapids on Monday, mere days after overdoses killed six people in Kalamazoo.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As drug overdose concerns have swirled in the West Michigan community in recent days, Grand Rapids non-profit Red Project on Monday deployed its mobile health unit to the city's Heartside Park to provide an assortment of health supplies free of charge.

"So, syringes and Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, anything that is going to lower the amount of harm that people can occur when they engage in very common activities like sexual activity, and substance use," Red Project Social Media Coordinator and Tobacco Treatment Specialist Alex Johnston said.

The unit also distributes medication meant to cure drug overdoses for those in need.

"We also provide Narcan and Naloxone, which is the same thing as Narcan," said Herman Devries, also with Red Project. "It's just an intramuscular form. And those are things that can reverse opioid overdoses."

Following multiple overdose deaths within 24 hours in Kalamazoo just days earlier, they said it was vital for people to have access to things like Fentanyl testing strips and Narcan.

"Just like what we're seeing in Kalamazoo, when there's a bad batch, it gets into a lot of hands very quickly and we need to have people testing their substances," Johnston said.

Johnston said their organization continues to advocate for anyone to carry Narcan in case of emergency.

"They are really, really necessary not only for accessibility, but for substance users themselves, but also for the general public," Johnston said. "Everybody should have access to Narcan as well as carry Narcan with them."

"You never know when someone is going to have a potential emergency requiring an opioid reversal," Johnston said. "And that's what Narcan does."

The drug that caused those deaths in Kalamazoo has not yet been verified, but fentanyl lacing is suspected.

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