HONOLULU (KHO2) — A potential life-saving medication could soon be coming to Honolulu bars and nightclubs.

The Honolulu City Council advanced a measure to mandate keeping Naloxone spray at “High risk venues”, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

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According to the State Department of Health, from August 2017 to August 2018, there were 59 deaths from an opioid overdose.

“EMS is responding now to fentanyl overdoses pretty much one a day now or, or more heroically, and doing everything they can to save people’s lives. and unfortunately, they haven’t been able to save everybody,” said Dr. James Ireland, Emergency Services Director.

In 2020…That number increased nearly 500-percent to 274.

“So, our thought is, is the earlier you can get the Narcan deployed when someone is maybe unconscious but still breathing, they can actually make a full recovery,” added Dr. Ireland.

He went on further to explain.

“It’s also important to note whenever Narcan is deployed, people should simultaneously call 911,” said Dr. Ireland.

But there were some Honolulu bars and nightclubs that saw the dangers coming well before the recent outbreak of overdoses.

in March and April 2022, Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand and Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar in Waīkikī and Scarlet Honolulu in Chinatown participated in a Naloxone training program that sought to mitigate fentanyl overdoses at some of humanity’s most vulnerable venues for overdoses.

“Scarlet keeps Narcan on site and has numerous people trained to administer it if necessary. Being prepared for a situation that involves fentanyl is good public health as well as good business,” said Robbie Baldwin, owner of Scarlet Honolulu. “The fentanyl crisis on the mainland is making its way to Hawaiʻi as we just saw with the unfortunate deaths in Waikiki this past week.” 

The Naloxone training was provided by a local nonprofit. It trained staff, managers and owners of these businesses to recognize an overdose and the steps to take to save a person’s life and working with emergency personnel.

There were some hotels that also saw the need to prepare for what has been happening on the Continent for the last few years.

Kaimana Beach Hotel, Alohilani Resort Hotel, Aston Waikīkī Hotel and Park Shore Waikīkī Hotel saw the impact that fentanyl overdoses were having and took the necessary steps to prepare their management teams to use Naloxone. These hotels also participated in the Naloxone training to ensure their management teams were educated and prepared.

There are other ways to access Naloxone. The Hawai’i Opioid Initiative works with agencies on each island that freely distributes Naloxone to anyone who wants it.

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As we move forward with preparing local businesses to deal with unnecessary overdoses, keep in mind that knowledge is power.