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With new overdose prevention van, NH group hopes to get life-saving supplies to more people

A side view of a dark-blue van with images and text painted on the side. White lettering on the van’s door says “STAY SAFE: NEVER USE ALONE.” The center of the van has a blue palmprint with a white heart in the middle of it, inside of a white outline of New Hampshire that is surrounded by red and purple flowers. Above the rear wheel are the words NHHRC / NH Harm Reduction Coalition in white and OVERDOSE PREVENTION VAN in orange.
Courtesy
/
New Hampshire Harm Reduction Coalition
The New Hampshire Harm Reduction Coalition’s new overdose prevention van.

As drug deaths rise in New Hampshire, a new mobile service aims to make it easier for people to get life-saving supplies like the overdose-reversal medication naloxone.

The New Hampshire Harm Reduction Coalition recently launched what it’s calling its overdose prevention van — a vehicle stocked with naloxone, fentanyl test strips, wound care kits, bottled water, COVID tests and other items.

It’s an effort to reach people who normally can’t access those services because they work during the day or live in remote areas, said Lauren McGinley, the coalition’s executive director.

“Harm reduction is about meeting people where they're at,” she said. “And we take that very literally. We don't put that in quotation marks.”

The van can also take used syringes for disposal, a service McGinley said is lacking in many parts of the state.

Supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the van is painted blue, with colorful designs and affirming messages on its sides. It’s a reflection, McGinley said, of the joy she and her staff feel when preventing overdoses and saving lives.

The coalition currently operates syringe-exchange programs in Concord, Manchester, Dover, Somersworth and Rochester. But McGinley said the van will be available to travel to communities around the state and conduct outreach outside of normal business hours.

“If you work a nine to five, it could be pretty difficult to find all of these supplies anywhere else,” she said. “So our van is now going to allow us to start doing evening outreach. It’s going to allow us to go into very remote, rural sections of the state.”

The van’s services are free. McGinley sees giving away naloxone — also known by the brand name Narcan — as especially important, as cost can be a barrier for many people.

The coalition will share information about where the van is going through social media and community partners. McGinley encouraged community organizations to get in touch about having the van stop by.

“If you have a lack of harm reduction services in your area, let us bring the van, help us find a place where we can park it for a few hours and we would be happy to offer all of these services and supplies for free to your communities,” she said.

Paul Cuno-Booth covers health and equity for NHPR. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Keene Sentinel, where he wrote about police accountability, local government and a range of other topics. He can be reached at pcuno-booth@nhpr.org.
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