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Great Barrington Fire Department Now Carrying EpiPens, Narcan

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GREAT BARRINGTON — The Great Barrington Fire Department has begun carrying epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens) and nasal Naloxone (Narcan) in an effort to be better prepared for anaphylactic shock and opioid overdose emergencies.

The Fire Department began carrying EpiPens and Narcan on July 25. Because firefighters are frequently first on scene, it is imperative that they are equipped with the necessary tools to conduct the highest level of care.

EpiPen is a disposable, pre-filled automatic injection device that can be used to administer epinephrine in the event of a severe allergic reaction. Narcan is an opioid antagonist that quickly reverses the effects of a potentially fatal overdose by displacing the drug from the receptors in the brain. It has minimal side effects, is not dangerous if given to a person who is not overdosing, and it has no potential for abuse.

All Great Barrington firefighters have been trained in recognizing symptoms of a severe allergic reaction and opioid overdose, along with how to administer each drug.

"It is good to have local partners in EMS who can begin treatment prior to our arrival," said Bill Hathaway, director of operations for Southern Berkshire Ambulance.

"On the ambulance we have used Narcan on multiple overdose cases during the past year," said Lt. AJ Anderson, who is also a paramedic with Southern Berkshire Ambulance. "Overdosing on opioid-based drugs can lead to death if not recognized quickly and treated appropriately."

The process took months to come to fruition and involved the Great Barrington Fire Department obtaining a controlled substance license from the Massachusetts Department of Health and establishing a partnership with Fairview Hospital, which provides the EpiPens and Narcan through their pharmacy. The initiative was led by Lt. Anderson with assistance from David Katzenstien, who recently completed the process for the Egremont Fire Department.

"I am thankful for the work of Lt. Anderson, along with Dr. Belman, Linda Jackson, and others at Fairview Hospital, which made this all possible. Hopefully we do not encounter these emergencies often, but when we do we are ready," said Chief Charles Burger. "We have a 150-year history of finding ways to improve service to the community, even if it means branching out from our standard scope of work. This is the next step in building on that tradition."

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Berkshires Beat: CATA to Break Ground on Future Home

CATA groundbreaking

Community Access to the Arts will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the organization's future home at 420 Stockbridge Road on Monday, June 10, at 11 a.m. The new arts center will establish a permanent home for CATA and allow the organization to expand its innovative arts programs for people with disabilities.

"After 26 years of renting space, CATA will now have a true home--one that will double our existing space for artists with disabilities," said Margaret Keller, CATA's executive director. "With the growth we've achieved in recent years, we have been bursting at the seams. Now, after intensive planning, we are ready to take this pivotal step forward to give our CATA artists the space they deserve. We can't wait to share our plans with the wider community at the groundbreaking and in the months ahead."

The two-story, 6,400-square-foot facility will double the organization's existing studio space, with two new art studios— one for visual arts and writing, the other for dance and performing arts. CATA's new arts center will also embody the principles of Universal Design, making the facility accessible to every person. For the first time, the building will bring the organization’s studios and offices under the same roof.

Formerly the Renaissance Arts Center, the building will undergo an extensive renovation to prepare for its new life as the CATA Arts Center. Architects Clark & Green are leading the design of the renovation and Allegrone is managing construction. Construction is slated to begin in July, with the building opening in early 2020.

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