COVID-19 grant supports training as overdoses spike in Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 10/20/16. Hamilton County EMS Station 9 Paramedic Ian Stearns explains how Narcan works on Thursday, October 20, 2016.

The Tennessee Community CARES program awarded the Hamilton County Coalition a more than $64,600 grant to continue providing free drug overdose prevention programs to the public.

Since March, the coalition has offered its overdose prevention program and naloxone (Narcan) training virtually. The program teaches participants how opioids affect the brain, how to identify signs of overdose and how to give someone naloxone, a drug used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.

Since the start of the pandemic in March there have been more than 560 drug overdoses in Southeast Tennessee, an area that includes Bradley, Bledsoe, Grundy, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Rhea, Sequatchie, Meigs, and Polk counties, according to data from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Drug overdoses and overdose deaths in Hamilton County in 2020 are already outpacing last year's numbers.