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RTS training employees in lifesaving overdose treatment

Rochester's Regional Transit Service is training employees to use naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses.
Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority
Rochester's Regional Transit Service is training employees to use naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses.

Rochester’s Regional Transit Service has begun training its employees in a potentially lifesaving response to opioid overdoses.

Transit service workers are learning how to administer naloxone, often sold under the brand name Narcan, which can reverse an overdose.

The agency’s public information officer, Tom Brede, said it’s a reflection of how the opioid epidemic has become a “community crisis.”

“We’re not the emergency medical response,” Brede said, “but we do have a role.”

Brede said trainings have been aimed mostly at RTS employees who work at the agency’s downtown Rochester hub.

“The transit center was important for us to focus on because of the volume of people who go through there every day,” said Brede, adding that 40,000 to 50,000 people go through the building most days.

It’s a question of probability, Brede said. RTS wants to prepare employees first at the places where overdoses are most likely to happen.

The transit service said the training effort is not entirely new. “We help our employees learn how to save lives,” Brede said, “whether it’s CPR, which started years back, or Narcan today.”

RTS workers have used what they learned in the trainings at least three times since the first session in July in an effort to reverse overdoses, Brede said. “We’re the first first-responders.”

Brett was the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.