Boyle County teacher helps save man’s life

Published 12:31 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2023


At the state championship football game in December, a man who was attendance suffered from an opioid overdose. Luckily, Boyle County High School Spanish Teacher Heather Wheeler had recently started carrying Narcan with her everywhere after receiving training.

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“We were at Kroger Field just watching the game when a friend who knew I carried Narcan called me and said it was needed,” Wheeler said. “I ran over there with my Narcan and handed it to medical professionals who were helping them. I left afterwards to give them space to work so I’m not sure who it was but to my knowledge it revived him. I’m glad I was able to help him.”

Wheeler and Boyle County Schools District Health Coordinator Nicole Brown began discussing having training classes on Narcan in October.

“We started talking about the possibility of training for staff who were interested,” Wheeler said. “As a teacher you know how drugs are impacting your community. We have lost students and former students to overdoses. Some students are having their home lives affected by drugs. It’s pretty obvious that drugs are affecting communities nationwide. I wanted to carry Narcan because I care about people. I believe everyone is made in the image of God and that each person’s life is valuable, even on their worst day. If carrying and using Narcan could save a life, then I wanted to be prepared to do just that. You hope to never have to use but you want to have in case you ever do.”

The training was conducted by University of Kentucky Target4 Project Health Education Coordinator Amy Anness.

“Our program deals with everything harm reduction and Narcan falls under that,” Anness said. “We have people all over the state in several different counties. On a day to day basis we offer syringe exchange services, HIV testing, and of course Narcan. We know now that Fentanyl has been a leading cause of the increase in overdoses in Boyle County in 2021 and 2022. Narcan stops opioid overdoses by releasing the opiates from the receptors in the brain. Narcan is easy for civilians to use. I can provide overdose education training in 15 minutes or less. Anybody can use the nasal spray and truly save someone’s life. I’ve been know as the Narcan lady for years now and I’ll take that proudly. I hear stories all the time where someone I have trained used Narcan to save someone’s life. There is nothing else I would rather do.”

Anness explained that Narcan has no harmful affects if it is used by an adult or child who isn’t overdosing and that it is even safe to use on dogs that have ingested prescription opiates. If you are interested in scheduling a group Narcan training session, Anness can be reached Monday through Friday at the Boyle County Health Department. Individuals can receive training at the health department without an appointment. Narcan is provided free of charge to those who receive the training.