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Outdoor boxes with Narcan getting plenty of use in Northampton and Greenfield

An outdoor box in Northampton, Massachusetts, can fit up to nine packages of Narcan, each containing two doses of the overdose-reversal drug.
Alden Bourne
An outdoor box in Northampton, Massachusetts, can fit up to nine packages of Narcan, each containing two doses of the overdose-reversal drug.

It's been a little over three months since the city of Northampton, Massachusetts, installed outdoor boxes filled with an opioid overdose drug.

A health official with the city says the program has been a big success. The two Narcan cabinets are located in a city park and near a bike path.

Taylor McAndrew is with Hampshire Hope, a coalition working to reduce the impacts of opiate abuse. It's run out of the Northampton health department.

She said the city already offered the boxes indoors in municipal buildings and other locations.

"The outside boxes are definitely getting more use than the indoor ones," she said. "Indoor boxes can be limited by the times that building hours are open and so the outdoor boxes provide a very low or no barrier avenue to grabbing the Narcan so I would say much more popular and accessible just by seeing it."

McAndrew said an indoor box, which holds eight Narcan doses, needs to be refilled once or twice a month, while the box in the park, which holds 18, needs restocking three times per month. The outdoor cabinet along the bike path gets less use.

The city wants to install at least two more of the outdoor cabinets and is working on an interactive map of all indoor and outdoor locations.

Narcan boxes have also been installed in Greenfield. The city has five indoor cabinets and four outdoor ones.

Tiarra Fisher, who is with the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region, said boxes located in the bathrooms at Greenfield City Hall get some of the highest usage. Outside of those, the four outdoor cabinets need to be restocked more than those inside.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

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