URI granted $1.3M to help stop overdoses in New England

University of Rhode Island's Community First Responder Program representatives are seen at booth. (University of Rhode Island)

KINGSTON, R.I. (WLNE) — The University of Rhode Island on Wednesday was granted $1.3 million in federal funding to help stop overdoses in New England.

With the funding, the university’s Community First Responders Program expanded to the Northeast Rural Opioid Technical Assistance Regional Center for community overdose reversal training.

The money came from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Anita Jacobson, the director of the program, said five institutions will be added around New England, turning the Community First Responders Program into a regional hub.

In the last three years, the program has distributed thousands of Naloxone kits and provided educational training to respond to opioid overdoses.

Participants in the program are given free Narcan nasal spray kits and can request fentanyl test strips.

“Understanding how to recognize an overdose, and having these resources can help save lives when seconds are crucial,” Jacobson said. “Anyone who knows someone taking opioids for any reason, or using unregulated substances, such as stimulants, can be trained to recognize and respond to an overdose.”

So far, 26,000 Narcan kits have been given out this year.

Anyone interested in becoming a community first responder can complete an online module on URI’s website.

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