The Town of Ocean City will work with a local nonprofit to install boxes in public areas that contain naloxone, a drug that treats opioid overdoses.

The town’s mayor and City Council voted unanimously in April to partner with the nonprofit Worcester Goes Purple for the installation of 10 boxes that will hold doses of Narcan, a nasal spray version of naloxone, that is approved for over the counter sales.

Five boxes will be placed on the resort town’s boardwalk, attached or nearby to AED boxes that are already in place. The other five will go around the region, including at Northside Park and the local Park and Ride.

“Narcan should be just a tool in everyone’s first-aid kit,” said Debbie Smullen, the president of Worcester Goes Purple.

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One of the boxes that Ocean City will install around town which will be stocked with naloxone and instructions on its use. (Courtesy photo/Worcester Goes Purple)

Smullen said the nonprofit will provide the medication for the boxes, which will be installed by town officials. Worcester Goes Purple will do regular checks to keep the boxes stocked.

“We did not ask the city for funding, we just asked that they install the boxes,” Smullen said.

The boxes will have instructions on how to administer the medication and a QR code that can be scanned to learn more about opioid overdoses and naloxone.

“It would be wonderful if this problem [opioid overdoses] didn’t exist, but the bottom line is, it exists,” said Terry McGean, the town’s city manager. “If we can put something out there that can save a life, we think it’s worth doing.”

According to state health data, Worcester County, which includes Ocean City, has had some of the fewest opioid overdoses in the state. In a 2021 annual report, for example, health officials said Maryland saw 2,507 opioid overdose deaths, with just 16 of them occurring in Worcester County.

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A preliminary report that’s current as of Jan. 22 of this year shows that Worcester County had six more opioid-related deaths in 2023 than in 2022.

McGean confirmed the naloxone boxes aren’t costing the town anything, and said the Fire Department, public works and Police Department officials all thought it was a good idea.

McGean said the boxes on the boardwalk had already been installed. The other boxes around town should be installed by Memorial Day weekend, Smullen said.

Cody Boteler is a reporter on The Banner’s Express Desk, reporting on breaking news, trending stories and interesting things in and around Baltimore. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, USA TODAY, Baltimore magazine and others.

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