ATLANTIC CITY — The city has some new allies in the battle against drug-overdose deaths.
The local branch of the Peacekeepers, a volunteer anti-violence group, now has five members trained to administer an antidote that can rescue people from overdoses of heroin and other opioids. The Peacekeepers group introduced those trained volunteers Saturday at a meeting in the Stanley Holmes Village community room.
Police and other emergency responders in New Jersey have been using Narcan, or nalaxone, since early 2014 to reverse overdoses in response to a growing epidemic of use and abuse of opioids. Steve Young, one of the leaders of the local Peacekeepers, said the members were trained in January on administering Narcan properly.
They now carry a supply with them on their community patrols, Young said, adding the members also have received training in conflict-resolution, first aid and other skills useful on the streets. The Narcan-trained members all carry certification cards identifying them.
All members of the group wear highly visible orange sweatshirts or T-shirts carrying the Peacekeepers’ motto: “I am present for peace.” Young, the leader, said the group has about 30 active members.
The local Peacekeepers chapter opened in 2011 and is one of more than 20 around the U.S. and as far away as London. The umbrella Peacekeepers group traces its roots 13 years to Columbus, Ohio.
The founder, Capt. Dennis Muhammad, who came to Atlantic City on Saturday, said the local branch’s new capability will become a model for the group.
“This is our first chapter that’s beginning Narcan,” he said. “This is going to be the flagship chapter.”
State officials reported recently that New Jersey had 1,587 drug-related deaths in 2015, with many of them involving heroin overdoses.
Police said six people overdosed within six hours one January night, apparently because of a powerful batch of heroin. Four of the victims were revived with Narcan, but two died, a spokesman said.