MATBUS partners with Fargo Cass Public Health to combat opioid epidemic

According to the Cass County Coroner, 39 people died from overdoses in Cass County in 2022.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:20 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:21 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

North Dakota is not immune to the opioid epidemic that has surged across the United States. According to the Cass County coroner, 39 people died from overdoses in Cass County alone, in 2022.

To combat the opiod epidemic, MATBUS has partnered with Fargo Cass Public Health to equip all vehicles with narcan.

“That’s all you need to save a life, it really is so simple anyone can do it,” says Robyn Sall, the Substance Misuse Prevention Coordinator for FCPH. She provided 65 MATBUS employees with narcan training, earlier this month.

FCPH also supplied 75 narcan kits for all matbus vehicles and their Ground Transportation Center hub.

According to Sall, “It is best practice to distribute narcan or naloxone as widely as possible throughout the community and if you think about places where you can reach a lot of people, public transit is definately one of those places.”

Sall says, the biggest criticism she hears of providing narcan to the public, is the idea that it increases drug use. However, Sall believes that’s not the case.

She explains, “Having narcan present really isn’t going to change someone’s mind,” adding, “They’re already in a position where they have to use.”

Sall says, in 2022, the Harm Reduction Center used narcan 461 times to save lives from opioid overdoses. These positive results, among other statistics, prompted MATBUS to offer narcan, as well.

“We kind of look at it as something that’s as essential as an AED that we have at our local transit hub, just something that we don’t really expect to use but you know in case something does happen we do like to have the tools available to assist someone in need,” explains Cole Swingen, the Fargo Assistant Transit Director for MATBUS.

He says they have received roughly 40 to 60 emergency calls this year, but it’s hard to pinpoint which ones could be opiod related.

Swingen says, “Being able to provide it to users who ride the bus in the case that something like that would happen is definitely crucial.”

He explains, they haven’t added the kits to their busses just yet, but should have them in place on all their vehicles by the end of 2023.

MATBUS and FCPH officials say they will continue to offer narcan education to MATBUS employees as part of their regular safety and on-boarding trainings. They would also like to add, anyone can access free narcan at the Harm Reduction Center in downtown Fargo.