You may have seen the al.com story published on October 27 that shows a bodycam video of a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy reviving a one-year-old child from an accidental overdose. The little girl survived. In the video, you can see the Jefferson County Department of Health’s (JCDH) logo on the naloxone kit the deputy used to revive the child.
How did the deputy know what to do?
In 2016, the Jefferson County Board of Health authorized the JCDH to purchase naloxone and provide it free of charge to Jefferson County residents who could help a person experiencing an opioid overdose. The JCDH has provided naloxone kits and overdose response training to all Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department staff – including that deputy- along with many others across our county and state.
Sounds simple, right?
It wasn’t. Overdose response training was not possible without a JCDH board resolution in 2014 to support policy change to make naloxone available to laypersons and law enforcement along with “Good Samaritan” legal protections. Then, in 2015, Dr. Mark Wilson, Health Officer at JCDH, led a statewide effort to pass a state law so that JCDH could provide naloxone and overdose response training.
This all started from a simple question, asked on a Leadership Birmingham bus.
In the spring of 2013, during a challenging Leadership Birmingham Human Services program day, the Class of 2013 boarded the bus for the next location. Then-U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance sat down next to Mark Wilson. Joyce asked Mark, “How can you and I work together on this emerging opioid crisis?”
Together, Joyce and Mark convened leaders and community stakeholders in a multi-pronged effort to address the crisis. Since then, hundreds of people in our community, including that one-year-old child, have survived an overdose because of the response training. Hundreds more are trained to handle the next overdose. All because of a connection between two legal and medical professionals at Leadership Birmingham.
Good things – big and small – happen “on the bus.” Good things happen when we make time to be with other leaders across professions, races, ages, and backgrounds. Leadership Birmingham uniquely provides that time and space for our community leaders, on as well as after the bus.