[ONEONTA, NY, January 19] As the opioid crisis continues to take the lives of more people each year, a community group, The Oneonta Narcan Initiative Team, has banded together to make a difference. This Team’s current aim is to ensure that innovative, life-saving ONEboxes™, which will contain Narcan (naloxone) and provide instant video instruction on how to administer, are placed in businesses and organizations throughout the area. This will enable anyone in those places to administer Narcan quickly and safely to a person overdosing and save their life. The Oneonta Narcan Initiative Team has been active for nearly one year, providing trainings, a Resource Fair, and an educational presence at the Mayor's Outdoor Welcome Reception for Newcomers to Oneonta.
ONEbox™ was developed in West Virginia as a response to the overdose crisis and is currently distributed by the Drug Intervention Institute (WVDII), a non-profit based in Charleston, WV with a mission of reducing overdose deaths. The boxes are designed to hold two doses of intranasal naloxone and provide emergency video and audio training on how to administer naloxone, which can reverse an overdose and save a life. The connection between West Virginia and New York came as agencies and organizations were sharing successes through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s INSPIRE program. ONEBox™ was one of those shared successes. This WV-NY connection has made the inclusion of the ONEbox™ in the Oneonta Narcan Initiative Team project possible. (For reference, Otsego County is the northern most county in the Appalachian Region.)
The specific funding for this project was made possible through Otsego County Opioid Settlement Funds awarded to the LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions. LEAF manages the funding while the Narcan Initiative Team serves as the lead organization for the project. The initial phase of the project includes the provision of the ONEBoxes™, supplies, and Narcan education, along with staff support for delivery, installation, maintenance and supply replenishment for local businesses and organizations. The group has purchased 100 boxes for distribution in the local area.
“We are thrilled to partner with LEAF to get the first ONEboxes™ placed in the state of New York. This initiative is critical to saving lives,” said Susan Bissett, Institute President. “Over 5,800 persons lost their lives to fatal overdose in New York in 2021. LEAF sees the value of naloxone distribution and training for overdose response to help reverse these numbers. And, New York is now one of 44 states utilizing ONEbox™ for overdose response.”
“The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce supports the ONEBox™ initiate for one clear reason; it saves lives. This is not a business decision or a political decision. It is a human decision. That is why our office will be equipped with a ONEBox™,” stated Sean Lewis, President and CEO of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.
Senator Peter Oberacker said, “Opioid addiction continues to ravage our communities and the results are often deadly. I believe a comprehensive approach is needed to help those in need and that includes education, prevention, and treatment initiatives. The caring individuals at LEAF and others with the Oneonta Narcan Initiative Team are working to develop real solutions and the OneBoxÔ Project is a step in the right direction. This is exactly how opioid settlement funds should be utilized – to help develop community efforts that will save lives.”
“The City of Oneonta shares the same concerns as many other upstate municipalities, but in one important way, we are unique,” said Mark Drnek, Oneonta Mayor. “Our is a caring community that can always be counted upon to work together for the common good. And there’s no better example than that of the Oneonta Narcan Initiative Team, a group of community volunteers who in collaboration with LEAF and Otsego County are making Narcan available to businesses and organizations throughout the area. On behalf of the citizens of Oneonta, I offer my heartfelt thanks to all involved in this life-saving effort.”
“At SUNY Oneonta we focus on empowering our students and staff to be safe while we live, work and study. Sadly, college students nationwide have lived their entire lifetime within the realities of the opioid pandemic. Addiction and loss have touched them within their families and communities, before they’ve even applied for college. As active members of the broader Oneonta community, we are proud to stand with this esteemed group to actively support solutions to respond to drug overdoses and educate on drug prevention on our campus and beyond.” -- Tracy Johnson, Vice President Student Affairs, SUNY Oneonta
Lakisha Mason, Director, Off-Campus & Commuter Student Services, said, “SUNY Oneonta is proud to be an early adopter of the ONEbox™ project, focusing on Narcan deployment. Our commitment to student well-being is unwavering, and through this initiative, we solidify our dedication to providing a secure and responsive campus environment. This underscores our belief that every member of the SUNY Oneonta community deserves the utmost care and support in their educational journey.”
“The First Responders have all seen the terrible effects of the proliferation of opioids nationally. The ease of use of naloxone has been proven to save lives. Kits like these, joining AED’s and fire extinguishers as lifesaving equipment, makes perfect sense,” said Chief C.J. Witzenburg, Oneonta Police Department.
Kathy Varadi, Coordinator of the Oneonta Narcan Initiative Team said, “I give you from the leader and sage Hillel, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?’"
To date, the following businesses, organizations, and, municipalities are participating in the project by accepting a ONEBox™ for their locations: The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, The Black Oak Tavern, The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta, Huntington Library, Dosha, The Greater Oneonta Historical Society, Southside Mall, New York State Senator Peter Oberacker Oneonta District Office, City of Oneonta, Town of Oneonta, SUNY Oneonta, Hartwick College, LEAF Council, Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center, Brew U, Roots, Otsego County Community Services, Temple Beth El, Bassett Healthcare, Nags, Green Earth, Chabad of Oneonta, The 6th Ward