A new tool is coming to Providence to fight opioid overdoses. The NaloxBox is designed to give bystanders easy access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. Like a defibrillator box, the NaloxBox puts lifesaving intervention in the hands of a layperson.

Geoff Capraro is an emergency room doctor and assistant professor in emergency medicine at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School. He designed and built the boxes with a team from the Rhode Island School of Design led by Claudia Rebola, an associate professor of industrial design. Capraro said that opioid overdose patients are very frequent at Rhode Island Hospital, and the NaloxBox could help these people before the ambulance even arrives.

“Critical action frequently happens before people even get to the emergency department,” Capraro said. “If we think about increasing the capacity for bystander rescue, then people will have better outcomes because we’ll have a prehospital system where people have the tools they need to help out. That was really the driver of this project.”

The state Department of Health funded the first 48 NaloxBoxes. They are set to be installed around several social services organizations in Providence, and the first six boxes were installed at Amos House last week. Capraro said that the Naloxboxes are being placed at these organizations so that high risk populations have publicly accessible naloxone, but noted that the opioid epidemic affects nearly all populations.

“Our best outcome would be if the box is never used,” Capraro said, as he and Rebola built NaloxBoxes one afternoon. “But for any family, if one person was saved from this, it would be worth everything we’ve done.”

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