Cave Junction, Ore. — According to the Centers for Disease Control, one person dies in the U.S. every 17 minutes to an opiate overdose.
A group called Max’s Mission is trying to change those numbers by teaching Jackson and Josephine counties about a drug that reverses an opioid overdose.
After losing her son to a heroin overdose, the director of Max’s Mission is traveling around Southern Oregon to educate the public.
Tuesday night she was in Cave Junction.
“From what I hear, it sounds like it should be on every street corner,” Michelle Russell said.
Russell says she’s new to the Josephine County community, but with a husband as an EMT she’s already aware of the opiate epidemic.
“I’m interested in helping people and so when I heard about the meeting I thought ‘well I don’t really know anything about it, so I’m gonna come down and see if there’s a way that I have more information to help somebody,'” Russell said.
Russell went to a community meeting in Cave Junction Tuesday night to learn about naloxone – which reverses an opioid overdose.
“Those death rates are going down,” La Clinica nurse Sara Smith said.
After witnessing two overdoses in her lifetime…
“I didn’t have anything to give them,” Russell said.
She’s hoping next time she’ll be prepared.
“Becoming aware of overdose, getting naloxone, knowing how to use it… is something that we can do as a community,” Smith said.
Smith who has helped bring naloxone to Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass and now Cave Junction says Max’s Mission has already given away more than 80 free doses of naloxone and they’ve trained about 130 people how to use it.
Julia Pinsky who is the director of the program says it’s important to bring naloxone to rural areas where help isn’t as immediate.
“In Cave Junction, it can take 25 minutes for EMT services to get to you and that is… that can make the difference between life and death,” Pinsky said.
Pinsky says it feels humbling and empowering to help the community and she thinks her son would appreciate her work.
“I think he would be very happy about it. He would love the fact that we hopefully are helping people and for the people experiencing the terrible avalanche of addiction in their family that there is hope,” Pinsky said.
The next naloxone event is planned for June 20th at the Medford Library.
If you’d like to donate toward the cause you can visit https://www.maxsmission.org/