Jim Rodimon, pictured here at his North Yarmouth home, will distribute the box of Narcan around Portland. He’s been providing the volunteer service since his son died three years ago. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

When Jim Rodimon’s son overdosed on heroin in 2018, Rodimon administered Narcan. But the overdose reversal drug he used was past its expiration date for maximum effectiveness and his son died.

The North Yarmouth father has worked ever since that July day three years ago to prevent other parents from the same anguish. He distributes naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, in Portland, wherever he sees the need. He frequents Forest Avenue and downtown. On cold days, he’ll also hand out other supplies he has available in his car, including blankets, jackets and hand sanitizer.

His son, Maxwell, was a talented chef and “overall just a great guy” who battled addiction for two years before his death at age 25, he said. His addiction began after he was prescribed Oxycontin for a knee injury.

“If I can stop even one parent from getting that call that their child has died, then it’s worth it,” he said.

Rodimon, a software engineer, picks up boxes of naloxone from the Portland Needle Exchange and then hits the streets to hand it out.

The Portland Needle Exchange provides naloxone, along with clean syringes and other sterile supplies, at no cost to people who use opioids.

“Rodimon’s work to distribute naloxone to members of our community is vital to prevent drug-related overdose deaths,” said Kerri Barton, interim program coordinator at the Needle Exchange.

The influx of synthetic opioids on the streets, such as fentanyl, has increased the risk of overdose, Barton said.

Between January and September of this year, there were 455 fatal overdoses in Maine, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office and Office of Behavioral Health. With an average of more than 50 deaths every month, it’s possible that 2021 will end with more than 600 overdose deaths in the state, outpacing last year’s 502 fatal overdoses.

“The more (naloxone) that we have available out in the community, the more lives that can be saved,” Barton said.

Alyssa Shope of Falmouth, who went to high school with Rodimon’s son, has been in recovery for four years after using heroin and crack cocaine for eight. While she has never been treated with naloxone or administered it to someone else, she has had to provide CPR four times on people actively overdosing.

“I look at (naloxone) as kind of like an EpiPen,” Shope said. “It provides safety for the public. If someone in the public is overdosing,  it’s a source that can save someone’s life.”

Rodimon hopes his distribution provides that safety net.

“I carry Narcan with me every single day. I’ll give it out on the spot,” Rodimon said. “I always keep some in my car, too. As I’m running errands I’ll hand out brochures from the Needle Exchange along with some Narcan and answer any questions people have.”

When he retires from his job at the Maine Center for Disease Control, he’d like to turn his mission into a full-time endeavor.

“I want people to see my face and know there’s someone here to help you out. You’re not alone,” Rodimon said. “I’m out here handing this to you to help you. I care about you.”

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