Across the nation, someone dies of an opioid overdose every 24 minutes. In Massachusetts, the death toll is five people a day. In the face of this epidemic, Cambridge, Ma., could become the first city to take a step that until recently might have seemed unthinkable: Placing lockboxes on street corners to give the public easy access to Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, a medication that can rapidly revive people who have overdosed, reports the New York Times. The idea is in its earliest stages, and any concrete plan seems at least a year away. Several days ago, police and doctors who support the boxes conducted an experiment, asking people who walked by if they would help a stranger who had overdosed.
Officials placed a dummy on the ground along busy Massachusetts Avenue, between two of this city’s most drug-infested areas. Passers-by were asked to pretend they had just found an unconscious person. They were handed a cellphone, which was connected to someone acting as an emergency dispatcher. The dispatcher directed them to a nearby lockbox, gave them a code to open it and explained how to administer Narcan, a nasal spray. “We want to see if regular people walking down the street would be willing to help someone who appeared to be overdosing,” said Dr. Scott Goldberg, director of emergency services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who oversaw the experiment. “And if they were willing to help, would they be able to help?” Dozens of people agreed to participate in the experiment. The Times interviewed several of them.