Kennebunk Fire Chief Justin Cooper is  shown here with a dose of naloxone, which is used to reverse an opioid overdose. He is among those who will be at West Kennebunk Fire Station on April 6 for a community forum and training on the use of the drug. Any community member is welcome to the event, hosted by Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNK – People in the Kennebunk area are invited to a forum next month that features a question-and-answer session and will teach how to administer naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses – and saves a life.

“The target audience for this event is really all of our community members,” said Alissa Wigglesworth, prevention program coordinator with Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition, which is hosting the event. “Overdose first aid, just like CPR or any other first aid training, is only beneficial when folks know what to look for and how to respond. The great part about the naloxone training is that it’s a very low barrier … it doesn’t take hours and hours to learn …”

The forum in Kennebunk is 6-7 p.m., April 6 at  the West Kennebunk Fire Station, 80 Thompson Road. There will be a conversation with local law enforcement, emergency medical providers and public health officials followed by training – and free pizza for attendees.

“Overdose is easily reversible if (someone with the person overdosing) recognizes it,” said Kennebunk Fire Chief Justin Cooper. While overdose incidents are few in Kennebunk compared to other larger nearby communities, “one life lost is one too many,” Cooper said.

He said people who administer naloxone to someone overdosing should stay with them, because the naloxone (often known by its brand name, Narcan) ) can wear off before the opiate does, and so the individual may need additional doses. Administering naloxone and then leaving the room, even for just a few minutes, is not recommended.

He said during the forum he will touch on things people should do if they suspect overdose, like making sure to call 911. He noted people will not get charged with a crime when law enforcement and EMS show up.


A doze of nalaxone, use to reverse an opioid overdose. People may know it by the brand name Narcan. Tammy Wells photo

Wigglesworth said Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition has been hosting similar events to the upcoming West Kennebunk forum and training  each month month (6 p.m., on the second Thursday of the month) at Graves Memorial Library in Kennebunkport in partnership with the town’s public health department. She said Kim Noble, a nurse with Kennebunkport Public Health, reached out a year and a half ago to get the program started.

Wigglesworth pointed out that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has noted in its literature that people are more likely to get treatment and recover when their families, friends, providers, and communities support them without judging them.

“We need to educate people, so they understand the seriousness of the issue and how it truly affects everyone in one way, shape or form,” said Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie. “We need to educate to reduce the associated stigma as we tackle the issue together.”

“(Any community member) that wants to be educated on substance use disorder and the opioid issue, and how we can help save a life and reduce stigma, is welcome,” said MacKenzie. “We want to reduce the number of overdoses to zero so people can recover – and they can recover. That’s where the value of Naloxone comes in and why it’s being made available with the training, for free. We can all potentially save a life and give that loved one an opportunity to recover and live a productive and happy life.”

Wigglesworth said even though Kennebunk’s overdose numbers are low, it does happen.

“We know substance use disorder doesn’t discriminate and people are still struggling,” said Wigglesworth “There may be someone out there that would benefit from being trained in and having naloxone on hand that isn’t ready to speak up and seek it out on their own. We really want community members to know that Kennebunk is here to respond and support those struggling with substance use disorder. We hope this event can be an example of the many resources and supports that already exist in the community and help to build upon them as well. We want individuals to be aware of how to access harm reductions tools like naloxone and aim to reduce the stigma around substance use disorder, which we know is one of, if not the largest barrier to folks seeking treatment.”

She said people are being asked to RSVP to help with planning, and the registration form merely asks for – but does not require – a first name and last initial, to avoid double counting. To register, visit

Comments are not available on this story.