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Amid Opioid Overdose Concerns, CPR Training Effort Emerges in MN


Tuesday, December 21, 2021   

Minnesota is still grappling with the impacts of opioid use, and now, an emerging effort aims to provide CPR training in marginalized communities to prevent loss of life.

State health officials recently announced Minnesota saw an 18% increase in non-fatal overdoses during the pandemic, fueled by opioid use, while adding the spike mirrors fatal overdose data.

On the prevention side, the American Heart Association is working with partners to recruit 600 "Community CPR Champions" in high-risk communities, mainly on the east side of the Twin Cities metro.

Dale Hager, captain in the White Bear Lake Police Department and a board member of the American Heart Association of Minnesota, said it gives local residents the power to save the lives of those close to them.

"Let's get the average person who has a basic knowledge of first aid trained to train their community members in how to pull somebody back from a potential opioid overdose," Hager urged.

The American Family Indian Center in St. Paul is among those who have signed on as volunteers. In Minnesota, members of the indigenous population are seven times more likely to die of drug overdose than whites.

Beyond state data, the American Heart Association recently reported opioid overdose is the leading cause of death for Americans between ages 25 and 64.

Hager added a quicker response in an overdose situation can make a huge difference.

"As opposed to waiting for an ambulance to arrive, we want to reach people where they are," Hager explained. "We want to reach people next to where our potential victims are."

He noted they also can provide comfort or triage for a victim until first responders arrive.

Organizers said they hope to reach their recruitment goal of 600 by the end of next April. Within each community network, roughly 60 people would receive CPR training. Additional overdose-prevention tips can be found on the American Heart Association website.

Disclosure: American Heart Association of Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues and Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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