Camden County launches virtual reality training program to teach people how to use Narcan for drug overdoses

Two women are crouched over their coworker, who is lying unconscious on the kitchen floor of the restaurant where they work.

“He’s not breathing, and his pulse is really slow,” one woman said to the other.

The women suspect their coworker might be experiencing a drug overdose, so they break open a box of Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal medication, and spray one dose into his nose.

This wasn’t a real drug overdose. Although it’s based on real situations, all the people in the kitchen are actors and their lines are scripted. A person wearing a virtual reality headset is viewing the scene as if they were there in person.

The experience is part of a new training model in Camden County, New Jersey, where officials and public health experts are trying to educate people on how to use Narcan, a brand of naloxone, to prevent overdose deaths.

Volunteers try out a new virtual reality training program on when and how to use naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. The program was developed for Camden County, New Jersey, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania. (Nicole Leonard / WHYY)

The goal is to bring the virtual reality training program into schools, workplaces, and private homes and increase the likelihood for someone to use the reversal medication when needed.

“If people don’t feel comfortable nor have the knowledge on how to use Narcan and when to use Narcan, all the Narcan in the world isn’t going to help us,” said Camden County Prosecutor Grace MacAulay.

  • October 28, 2023
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