The NYT has an article today about Cambridge, MA testing the public’s willingness to administer safe, life-saving naloxone to unconscious people possibly suffering from an overdose. The idea is that people would see an unconscious human, call 911, and the dispatcher would give Good Samaritan the code to a nearby public lock-box where the antidote to opiod overdose is and talk them through how to administer the nasal spray.

I’ve actually been trained in how to administer naloxone in two separate forms, and it’s not particularly tricky, and can’t really harm the person. The person being thrown out of their high might get violently angry with you, but that’s the only real danger.

The biggest question I have, though, is when as a bystander do you call the police? I live in DC, and I pass a lot of people who may be sleeping or may be unconscious - it’s really hard to tell. Do you play it safe and call anyways? What if you unnecessarily get a homeless person woken up, bothered, and told to move along - or worse? I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable going up to someone and asking if they were asleep or unconscious out of fear of making them angry ... the other night I passed someone who looked homeless lying at an odd, awkward angle. I was going to call the police but my friend convinced me it would be better to move along. I’m not so sure.