Numerous Montgomery County and Montgomery Goes Purple representatives held the third county-wide fentanyl forum in response to the fentanyl crisis
On March 25, numerous Montgomery County officials and Montgomery Goes Purple representatives held an educational forum at Paint Branch from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in response to the county-wide fentanyl crisis. Hundreds of parents, students and community members gathered at the third county-wide fentanyl forum to learn more about the crisis and how to prevent it.
The event began with a brief welcoming and a few introductory speeches from various Montgomery County and Montgomery Goes Purple leaders such as MCPS Medical Officer Dr. Patricia Kapunan. The speakers expressed the importance of working together as a community to solve the concerning crisis. Throughout the entire forum, Spanish interpreters translated the information.
At around 9:30, the event transitioned to breakout sessions. For the next two hours, each attendee visited up to four sessions – each of which ran for 30 minutes – to learn about a variety of information led by MCPS firefighters, police and other staff. Each of the 14 rooms taught a unique lesson, ranging from how to administer Narcan to how students can create healthy boundaries with friends.
How to respond to an emergency
In one of the breakout sessions, MCPS firefighters informed participants how to identify and react in the case of an overdose in three steps. The first step is to evaluate the situation by determining what the person is experiencing. If the person is unresponsive, has dilated pupils, and is either not breathing or is gasping/raggedly breathing, they are most likely experiencing an overdose. The next step would be to call 911 and follow their instructions, which may include performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Finally, the last step is to retrieve and administer Narcan if possible.
After this explanation, the firefighters invited participants to practice administering Narcan on a mannequin and allowed for any other questions.
Public safety and fentanyl facts
Another breakout session focused on informing participants on general fentanyl facts. Led by numerous police staff such as Lieutenant Kearney, MCPS Director of School Safety and Security Ed Clarke and Police Satinsky, the room recounted personal stories on substance abuse and statistics about the crisis across the county.
Throughout the session, the police reiterated the idea that the people using fentanyl are not the criminals: it is the dealers who are the root problem and should be arrested. “We look at people using this drug as a victim, not as a suspect,” Satinsky said.
Additionally, the police urged attendees to be involved with those around them and to not be afraid to speak out because it is better to “snitch” than be quiet and risk someone’s life being lost due to substance abuse.
When asked if there is an identifiable cause for the recent increase in fentanyl dealing around Montgomery County and across the country, police explained that there is simply more availability for the drug, and teens seem to disregard their health and safety for the euphoria. “It’s the new ‘new’. Teens know it is killing them, but they are still taking the chance,” Clarke said.
Finally, officials reminded the breakout room participants that the current fentanyl crisis is not merely county-wide, but instead a problem present throughout the country. “Montgomery County is not a special case, it’s just representative of what is happening around the country,” Clarke said.
Post breakout sessions
At a little before noon, everyone concluded up their final breakout session and returned to the main gym for closing remarks and Narcan distribution. The forum leaders reiterated the importance of working together as a community, and speaking out for those around you.
If someone you know is experiencing substance abuse, please call the Maryland Safe Schools Tip Line: 1-833-632-7233. The hotline is anonymous and can help save lives.
For more information about how the fentanyl crisis is affecting our community, check out more stories on our website.
Alex Feingold-Black. Hey! I'm Alex [he/him] and I'm the Feature Editor and External Manager for SCO. Outside of school you can find me running laps around a track and eating from Potbelly's Sandwich Shop. More »