HANNIBAL (WGEM) – The Hannibal Fire Department is trying to educate students about the harmful effects of heroin to prevent abuse from happening at a young age.
Hannibal Fire public education coordinator Mark Kempker said a 14-year-old student in Canton overdosed on heroin last year. He wants to prevent such cases from happening again.
On Thursday, high school freshman Hannibal participated in the department’s presentation on heroin abuse HEET. It engages students with overdose scenarios and videos to educate them about the harmful effects of the drug, even before they start using it.
Aurora Shepard, a freshman at Hannibal High School, said she had been affected by drug addiction before.
“Because my uncle is an alcoholic, I would know a lot about it because I’ve seen the effects of what addiction can have on people. I’m pretty sure my family carries the genealogy that makes addiction easier” , Shepard said.
Firefighters, NEMO task force members and Preferred Family Health Care staff had open conversations about gateway drugs as well as how to safely report an overdose to the police.
“What we’re trying to do is engage students, engage students, get feedback from them, understand what’s happening in the world today,” Kempker said.
Shepard said she thinks talking about addiction at a young age is important for prevention.
“I like that it allows people to learn things before they end up in a deep pit that they can’t get out of,” Shepard said.
Kempker said he lost his 24-year-old cousin to a heroin overdose in 2015, which is why he wants to educate young people about the dangers of heroin.
“It’s also a kind of healing. But if we can help save a life, why wouldn’t you? Kempker said.
Kemkper said their heroin abuse training videos are released by fire departments in St. Louis and other cities in the state.
If you, or someone you know, suffers from heroin abuse, you can call the National Drug Helpline at 1(884) 289-0879.
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