Saturday, Aug 18, 2018
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Save lives but change TARTA

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TARTA bus drivers will now be trained to use the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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It would be terrifying for one of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority’s bus drivers to see a passenger overdosing on drugs and not know what to do.

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That is why TARTA has trained its drivers and other employees to recognize and respond to overdoses. The transit agency carries 11,000 passengers a day, many of whom TARTA General Manager James Gee called the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the region.

Drivers have been trained on how to recognize when a passenger may be experiencing an overdose and what to do when that happens. Not only will drivers be ready to call 911 in those circumstances, but they will be prepared to administer the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

After the instruction, drivers will be able to carry naloxone, at their discretion.

Police, firefighters, and other first responders have been trained for several years to use the life-saving drug, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

TARTA’s employees are joining a growing list of workers getting the training they need to respond when they encounter overdose victims in the course of their work, including school nurses, social workers, and jail staff members.

This is not much different than training employees to do CPR or use a portable defibrillator and, at the rate the drug crisis is killing Ohioans, may be even more useful.

At the same time, this is not the sort of news that will attract young professionals to TARTA bus lines.

Of course we want bus drivers to be able to save lives. But TARTA must also reinvent itself with smaller, cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that make short runs around downtown and uptown as well as long ones to the malls and suburbs. TARTA must aim to carry urban professionals, young and old, as well as the elderly, the carless, and the poor. It ought to be possible to do both.

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