Milwaukee firefighters distribute free overdose prevention kits to the community

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Milwaukee firefighters are looking to tackle the opioid crisis with new overdose prevention kits.

Every Milwaukee Fire Department truck, engine and MED unit now carries these HOPE kits. Inside are two doses of Narcan, fentanyl test strips and CPR equipment. The fire brigade will give them free to anyone who wants them.

“This kit offers those closest to this issue to step in and help and buy precious minutes in our continuum of care, so that when 911 is called, we have a fighting chance,” said said chef Aaron Lipski.

These fentanyl test strips are especially important for these kits. They were previously illegal. The state legislature changed that this year.

“He was considered an accessory to drug use in the state of Wisconsin,” Alexandria Kohn said.

Alexandria Kohn is Milwaukee County’s Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator. She said test strips allow someone to test a drug before taking it.

“You would dip the tape in there and it would indicate with a different color variation if there was fentanyl present,” she said.

Kohn said most illegal drugs today can be mixed with fentanyl and easily cause an overdose.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s marijuana or cocaine, or other recreational drugs,” she said. “It’s important to realize that people are going to use no matter what, so why not give them the tools so they can at least survive another day and hopefully be taken care of.”

Narcan is also an essential tool that is used to reverse an overdose. Having more people with access to it can save more lives. In 2020 alone, Milwaukee County recorded 546 overdose deaths.

“Wisconsin had 1,500, so to have 546 in Milwaukee alone shows that we have a problem and we need to start caring about our community members,” Kohn said.

If you want to get your hands on one, all you have to do is ring the doorbell of a fire station or approach a fire crew if you see one. Lipski said there will be enough kits for anyone who wants one.