The opioid overdose epidemic is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of fifty. Student Leaders at James Madison University’s SSDP chapter know that not enough of their peers know what to do when faced with an opioid overdose. They know that it will take a community effort to address the Overdose Epidemic. That’s why, this last November, JMU SSDP officers organized a private training with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health’s REVIVE program to get certified as Opioid Overdose Recognition and Response trainers.
Who are these caring citizens of Harrisonburg? I had the opportunity to interview a few members of the JMU chapter who participated in the training, and learn more about them and what motivated them to get trained.
The chapter president, Jack Vandemeulebroecke ‘18, is a computer science major at JMU who has been a part of the chapter since its inception in early September. He told me that they did this training, in part, to better serve the Harrisonburg and JMU community. “I personally wanted to be trained because accidental drug overdose is one of the leading cause of death of people my age. Training people to save a life in an overdose situation is one of the best ways to stop this trend,” Jack wrote in an email.
Elanra Dulaney ‘18, a biology major and freshman member, and Ethan Frye ‘18, an integrated sciences and technology major and the chapter treasurer, considered the training an important skill to develop in light of the opioid overdose epidemic. Aimee Nicolich ‘18, a justice studies major with a double minor in criminal justice and legal spanish and the chapter’s Legal adviser, shared that they have had a few friends who were EMT certified share stories of responding to opioid overdoses and how invaluable it is to be able to recognize and reverse an overdose. Stuart Walker ‘18, a sophomore member, shared that he wanted to learn more about the distribution, application, and ideas around Naloxone. The club is planning to run multiple Naloxone trainings throughout the course of the spring semester, among a myriad of activities and events that the club is planning.
I asked each member what they were most excited about for this spring semester, and learned that Ethan is most excited about organizing a “Pet a Puppy” fundraiser in collaboration with their school’s animal shelter. Aimee is most excited about fostering connections with local defense attorneys as well as educating people about their rights during police encounters. Elanra is excited to continue to have “honest and open dialogue with my friends, family, and community” and “to learn, grow, create memories, and try new things!” Jack is excited to “plan events and hang out with the fun people I have met so far.” I’m excited to see what this creative, caring, and eclectic group will accomplish this semester as they fight the drug war at JMU.