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Public training on Naloxone Thursday responds to Fentanyl deaths

Bruce Snodgrass.png
Snodgrass Family
Robert “Bruce” Snodgrass, namesake of Bruce’s Law. June 4, 1999 – October 26, 2021

A public workshop on the opioid overdose antidote Naloxone is happening in Fairbanks today. Advocates are trying to get people to carry Naloxone in the hopes it can save lives.

Fentanyl kills more Americans than any other drug, according to federal research. It takes only a small amount to cause to a fatal overdose. When mixed into street drugs, users may not know its there, until it is too late.

Sandy Snodgrass is an advocate for Naloxone distribution, she has been in Fairbanks since Tuesday. She has already made presentations at the youth shelter “The Door,” and later this morning will go to the City of Fairbanks Public Works department for training and distribution of the overdose antidote.

“Those guys really frontline guys. They're boots on the ground guys. So for them to have Naloxone available rather than have to call 9 1 1 really will save some lives in Fairbanks,” Snodgrass says.

Her connection to this advocacy is intimate – her son, Robert “Bruce” Snodgrass, died from a Fentanyl overdose in 2021 in Anchorage. Snodgrass (recently?) quit her job to focus on Naloxone advocacy.

“So I'm really glad to be in Fairbanks and do anything that I can do, anywhere I can do it, to stand up a response to the Fentanyl epidemic in Alaska,” she said.

She brings her Naloxone expertise but also her experience as a mother to her presentations.

The public is invited to a Community Meeting this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at Fairbanks City Hall for information, training and distribution of Naloxone. It is sponsored by the AK Fentanyl Response Project. It will feature a short film, “Dead on Arrival.”

“Very moving documentary. It talks, it has four affected parents, four parents that children have been poisoned to death by Fentanyl, and it very effectively provides a lot of really current factual data about what's going on with Fentanyl in the country, which is what's happening with Fentanyl and Fairbanks as well,” Snodgrass says.

Snodgrass will share her son’s story, and talk a little about new federal legislation being introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski known as ‘Bruce’s Law.’

At 3PM will be a training opportunity for learning to use naloxone kits.

“Anyone that wants to be trained to recognize a possible opioid overdose or a fentanyl poisoning can be trained right there. And I have lots of kits, Naloxone kits, to distribute to anyone that wants them,” she said.

Snodgrass says the materials for the kits is provided by Project Hope through the state Health Department but they were assembled by volunteers at a church on Tuesday.

Snodgrass says there is also training on the Health Department website, but in an overdose situation, there isn’t time to review training.

“What the CDC says is it's two three minutes from injection to death,” Snodgrass said.

She says that’s why its important for community members to carry the antidote with them all the time.

“It’s because of the deadliness of Fentanyl -- how quickly it causes the body to stop breathing,” she said.

The AK Fentanyl Response Project has received a small grant through the high-intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program in Alaska.

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.