Friends of Congress Square Park is invested in safety in the park for all visitors. This year, we’ve been offering training resources to our volunteers, community partners and open space groups, and the general public. We believe that the more informed we are, the better we can create a welcoming space and assist neighbors in need.

We recently partnered with the Portland Needle Exchange to host a public Overdose Response Training hosted by Zoe Brokos, Community Health Promotion Specialist from the Needle Exchange Program. 

Portland Needle Exchange is a tremendous local resource! Zoe works with participants to provide risk reduction education, overdose prevention education, supplies like naxalone, case management services, and testing for HIV, Hepatitis C, and STDs. She also provides referrals to drug treatment programs upon request.


In the training, Zoe covered:

  • How to recognize an overdose
  • Risks of an opioid overdose
  • How to respond as a lay person to overdose
  • All about Naloxone- what is it? how to use it? who can carry it? 

Did you know that all Portland emergency responders carry Naxalone (also known as NARCAN) to treat overdoses? And did you know that the drug is simply an opioid blocker that you simply spray in the nose? It stops the opioid from slowing heart rate and breathing so the person experiencing the crisis can breathe normally again. You can never hurt someone by administering NARCAN, you can only help.

People who attended the workshop said they felt the training helped to reframe internal expectations about what it meant to intervene. Witnessing an overdose and trying to help can feel scary, but upon learning about effective and safe ways to assist, participants felt more confident in their ability to comfortably make a difference until Emergency Medical Services arrive.

Slides from Zoe’s presentation are available here and here. Read them, share them, and ask more questions!

The Portland Needle Exchange Program (NEP) is located at 103 India Street in Portland and can be reached via phone at (207) 756-8024. To learn more about trainings and resources available through NEP, contact Zoe Brokos or view their Website.

For more resources in Portland, view the list below.


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