MERIDIAN, Idaho — A student-led task force at Idaho's first medical school is taking on the opioid epidemic with Narcan.
On Wednesday, roughly 150 students and staff members at ICOM in Meridian learned all about how opioids impact the body, and how to spot an overdose.
Thanks to a grant through the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, the school also just received 75 Narcan kits.
"It's relatively safe, and it reverses the effects of an overdose," President of the ICOM Student Osteopathic Medical Association David Bassa said. "It's a life or death matter, and really time is of the essence."
The task force is open to anyone on campus. Over the last two months, they've been reaching out to students and faculty, hoping to spread the word about opioid use and abuse in Idaho.
"It's an ongoing epidemic, and you never know when you'll run into someone who has on overdose, so we'd like everyone on our campus to be educated for that," task force co-chair Alay Parikh said. "I think it's important for the next generation of physicians and healthcare providers, that we have to kind of step in at the frontline and nip this in the bud before it really gets out of hand."
Vice President of ICOM's Student Osteopathic Medical Association Zacharie Finneman applied for the grant, which supplied the school with 75 kits of Narcan, each containing two potentially life-saving doses.
"I happened to come across this grant that initially was for first responders, hospitals, and stuff like that," Finneman said. "But they were really interested in having a new medical school and helping us out to fight this opioid epidemic."
From here, the task force will discuss where in the Boise area would benefit most from a visit from students, like libraries, homeless shelters, or low-income neighborhoods, to distribute Narcan kits and educate community members about when and how to use it.
"We'll Identify high-risk areas where overdose is pretty prevalent, and students will go out and train other members of the community on how to administer Narcan," Bassa said.