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San Francisco

Library Staff May Be Trained To Intervene In Drug Overdoses

Staff of the main San Francisco Public Library may be trained to administer life-saving medication to drug users who overdose on the property under a plan currently under consideration.

“The idea pending right now is it would be voluntary,” library spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers told Hoodline. “Librarians and other staff could be trained to administer naloxone only if they want to receive the training and are willing to potentially respond to an incident.”

Visitors to the central library, located at 100 Larkin Street (near Grove), often witness people using drugs not only on the property surrounding the building but also within the library itself. The voluntary training is being considered after staff in February found a man dead from an overdose in the library’s restroom.

Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr

Naloxone is a drug known to reverse the effects of overdoses of heroin and other opioids, also known under the brand name Narcan. 

“No other fatal incidents have occurred in the past eight to 10 years, although I’m told there was one previous drug overdose fatality about 10-12 years ago,” Jeffers said.

The library's Security and Communications Staff Task Force, which includes representatives from a variety of library staff positions, received a presentation about Narcan a couple of weeks ago and will consider adopting voluntary training program further at its meeting next month, Jeffers said. If the library does decide to move forward with the training program, the emphasis would be on encouraging security officers and members of the social work team to volunteer, but the training would be open to anyone interested in participating in the program, she added.

The trained staff would not be carrying naloxone on their person, but it would be available to them within the library, most likely in the security office, Jeffers said. The library would maintain a list of trained staff that would have access to the medication. She said the library is likely to cover the cost of supplying the Narcan for incidents that occur on its property.

Photo: Wikimedia

The San Francisco Department of Public Health would provide the training, spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said. DPH staff already patrol the library's perimeter, and those crews include people trained in administering Narcan, she said. DPH also has a team dedicated to responding to complaints about discarded syringes anywhere in the city, including outside the main library, Kagan added. 

Library staff and visitors may see an increase in drug use on the property as law enforcement continues to crack down on users below ground. As we reported last week, the BART police and SFPD are conducting ongoing operations to discourage drug use in stations across the city. The targeted operations led to 27 arrests at Civic Center Station over a three-day period last week.

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