Maria saves a life on Overdose Awareness Day

Maria Preston of the Forward Leeds Specialist Therapeutic Outreach Team used naloxone to bring someone round from a suspected opioid overdose in Leeds.

The incident took place outside St Anne’s Resource Centre on 31 August, which is International Overdose Awareness Day. A member of the public had collapsed on York Street. Maria was inside the St Anne’s Resource Centre with Centre Manager Fiona Petrie at the time and when they both heard a commotion they rushed outside.

The person was unconscious with very slow breathing and unresponsive to shouting. Fiona dialled 999 and spoke to the ambulance while Maria, a Trauma-Informed Mental Health Practitioner, used her naloxone kit to bring him round. Maria injected him in the top of his leg with five of the doses from the naloxone kit before he was revived.

Maria said: “The thing I was most worried about is, with my background, I’m not used to administering medicine or injections. This was the first time I have used naloxone, but it was very simple. My training just kicked in and I did what I needed to do at the time to save his life.

“Fiona had been instructed on the phone by the paramedic to start CPR as he was still unresponsive. We went to the York Street Medical Practice to get hold of their defibrillator but he had rolled onto his back by that time. He then could stand up when the ambulance arrived and walked into the ambulance. It felt like a lifetime but the reality was it was probably only a few minutes. I felt such relief when he came round”.

“It just shows the importance of always having a naloxone kit to hand. I always carry mine around with me. We had spare kits at St Anne’s all the staff there are trained as well.”

St Anne’s Resource Centre is a day service for individuals aged 18 and over who are homeless or vulnerably housed and who may also have mental health, drug or alcohol issues. They offer people a safe postal address, shower and laundry facilities, support with housing and benefit issues.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a world-wide annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died, and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. Forward Leeds has been raising awareness all week across their social media channels and in their hubs across the city.