Coalition Offers Classes to Reduce Overdose Deaths

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Hamilton County Coalition is working to reduce the number of overdose deaths by holding online classes.

The Dangerous Drugs Task Force says there have been 230 overdoses from January to April.

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Hamilton County Coalition officials say the COVID-19 pandemic has increased drug overdoses in our area.

“The pandemic and the social distancing, the isolation has caused people to get into their own heads in a lot of cases,” said Vanessa Spotts, regional overdose prevention specialist. “So there has been a significant spike in not only in Hamilton County, but all our surrounding counties.”

That’s why Spotts and her team plan to hold free online classes until the end of the summer.

“Become so easily accessible to reach so many people because I’m sitting in Hamilton County, but I can teach classes in Grundy County, and it will be just to individuals in Sequatchie and Marion and Bledsoe all simultaneously. Then all I have to do is coordinate getting the NARCAN.”

In the hour-and-a-half class, Spotts breaks down what a drug overdose looks like, and how to treat one. She says this information is most important for our rural areas.

“Our rural areas are suffering, and a lot of times not a lot of media presence other than the news, so we want the rural areas to know we are aware.”

Spotts says her job is all about raising awareness about the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic through education and training.

“So we want to make certain that we don’t leave anyone out of the services we are providing.”

If you are in need of NARCAN, you can make a request to the Hamilton County Coalition online or by phone.

“If you let me know that you need NARCAN, we get that NARCAN to you within 24 to 48 hours.”

If you’d like to register for a class, go to hccoalition.org.

 

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You can watch Emily Cassulo weeknights on News 12 Now at 6 and Prime News at 7 with John Mercer. Emily also does stories on different tech products and issues for Tech Byte, which airs Mondays on News 12 Now. She joined the WDEF news team in September 2016 from News 12’s sister station in Columbus, Mississippi, where she worked as an anchor, producer and reporter. Emily is no stranger to the Volunteer State. Before moving to Mississippi, she worked at WBBJ-TV, covering crime and severe weather throughout West Tennessee. She loves living in Chattanooga, and exploring what the Scenic City has to offer. Emily is a Florida native, graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism and minor in political science. While in college, Emily worked part-time as a reporter/web producer at News/Talk 96.5 WDBO. She broke her first news story there, which made national headlines, and covered the 2010 Central Florida congressional elections and the high-profile Casey Anthony trial. When she’s not busy reporting, Emily enjoys shopping, reading, playing the piano, and spending time with family and friends. Feel free to e-mail her at ecassulo@wdef.com if you have any story ideas or just want to say ‘Hi.’