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TARTA employees doing their part to fight opioid epidemic

TARTA employee holds Narcan nasal spray, naloxone, the drug to reverse opioid overdose.

TOLEDO, Ohio (WNWO) - For the last four years, Tonya Steward has been a TARTA bus driver.

"I am responsible for a lot of lives driving a bus," said Tonya Steward.

But now, Steward is adding a new skill to her wheelhouse.

"If we see something, we can get them help," said Steward.

Toledo Area Rapid Transit Authority now requires hundreds of their employees to undergo training on the opioid overdose reversal drug.

“It’s a way to sort of offset any effects of overdose, until emergency personnel can arrive, by administration of Narcan," said Steve Atkinson, a spokesperson for TARTA.

The training goes over the signs of an overdose.

"I feel very confident if I noticed someone with some symptoms,” said Steward.

To eventually, administering naloxone.

"It's a nasal spray, one time use, both nostrils to be administered,” said Atkinson. “It won't interact with any other symptoms, it's harmless if they are not having an overdose."

The agency said no single event prompted the training. TARTA operates 365 days a year, and sees about 11,000 people each day. They are training in order to be proactive.

Steward said she's never seen an opioid overdose, but there have been emergency situations where she had to call dispatch.

She adds that while she hopes to never need to use her training, she feels prepared, "My goal is safety first."

Employees don’t have to use the drug if they are faced with an overdose situation. But, the training is still mandatory.

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