Narcan vending machines coming to Pierce County

Three Narcan vending machines are coming to Pierce County.

The idea is to make it easy for people to get the nasal spray that can save the life of someone overdosing on opioids.

The first machine will go in a corner of Recovery Café Orting Valley.

“We’re going to be available if someone wants to talk, but we’re not going to require them to talk to us at all. They can simply come in, get the Narcan and leave,” said Rena Thompson, who runs the Recovery Café.

The retrofitted snack machine will be installed next month.

Push a button, and out comes a free box of Narcan nasal spray.

A QR code on the machine links to instructions on how to use it.

“We’re not just tossing Narcan out there. We’re providing information so people can get trained on how to properly respond,” said Paul LaKosky, who runs the organization that operates the Tacoma Needle Exchange.

A behavioral health organization is funding three naloxone vending machines in Pierce County.

Four thousand doses are expected to be delivered over nine months.

It’s a temporary program that organizers hope to make permanent.

The other two locations have not yet been announced, but one is expected in Tacoma and another in rural Pierce County.

The idea is to make naloxone easily available, no questions asked, so people have it on hand in case they encounter someone having an overdose.

“It could be your friend, your neighbor, your family member,” said lead case manager Alex Medina at Recovery Café Orting Valley.

Medina said the opioid crisis is hitting across all demographics in Orting, a small town where the hospital is a half hour away.

“It’s going to allow communities like ours in Orting to have access to life-saving measures,” she said.

Police officers and firefighters in Orting carry Narcan, and the police chief said he’s in favor of any program that makes it more available.

The head of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Steven Strachan, wrote, “If more access to naloxone saves lives, we should all support it. We need to continue to focus, however, on reducing addiction by creating incentives to get people safe and off the streets.”