Baltimore city health officials go to polling places and offer voters chance to save lives

Learn to use the heroin overdose drug while you vote.

Vote -- and Don't Die. That's the message Baltimore City health workers were hoping to convey at local polling sites Tuesday, as they offered voters the chance to train to use the opioid overdose drug naloxone.

Many Maryland jurisdictions have been offering residents training with the drug, also known as Narcan. But city officials have perhaps been the most creative at meeting people “where they are.” And they were everywhere on Election Day, captive audiences of civic-minded residents who might be open to learning about preventing deaths from drug overdoses.

“We figured people would be in line already to vote, so why not take some time and also learn to save a life,” said Leana Wen, the city health commissioner.

With Baltimore and surrounding areas experiencing a herion addiction epidemic, Wen said officials want as many people as possible to learn to use the drug than can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose.

The idea is to keep prescription drug and heroin addicts alive long enough to get them into treatment, she said.

Wen said the health workers wouldn't be hitting up people inside polling places, rather they would remain just outside of the official sites, along with the people handing out campaign literature, and remind voters that the city and state have standing prescription orders allowing anyone with training to obtain naloxone doses.

Health officials spent the day at several polling stations in the city center and the east and west sides. Workers planned to stay until the polls closed at 8 p.m. at Graceland Park Elementary on O’Donnell Street and the Maryland State Boychoir Center for the Arts on Norman Avenue.

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