Berks

BARTA Transportation Center top spot for overdoses in Berks

Security guards to be trained to use naloxone

READING, Pa. - The BARTA Transportation Center in downtown Reading has had problems in the past.

"I saw overdoses, needles, [and] blood. It was just so crazy how this place was," said Brandon Youngs, a former BARTA employee.

Officials announced Thursday that the transit center on Cherry Street, behind the Santander Arena, is the number-one location for overdoses in Berks County.

"There's a problem with that location," said Stanley Papademetriou, executive director of the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA). "We don't know the reason why. We know there's an issue and it needs to be addressed, and that's what we're looking to do."

Within about a year's time span, there were 27 overdoses at the transportation center. While recovery treatment is certainly part of the healing process, COCA said it's not the first step.

"Part of what we want to do in the midst of this opioid crisis is to get as many people treated for a substance abuse disorder, but to be able to treat them, you have to keep them alive first," Papademetriou said.

To help sustain an overdosed patient before an EMT arrives at the scene, BARTA Transportation Center security guards will be trained to use naloxone kits, which will hopefully save many lives.

"It stops the effect of the opioid and revives them from the overdose," Papademetriou said.

"This should've been done like five years ago," Youngs said, "but I'm glad they're doing it now, because it could stop the overdoses and the killing going on here."

The security officer training is starting fairly soon, but anyone can pick up a naloxone kit at COCA, just in case you ever have to use it.

"It's a community effort. It's not just a drug and alcohol treatment issue. It's a police issue, a medical issue. It's an education issue," Papademetriou said.

And most of all, it's an issue of saving lives.


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