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Librarians On Front Lines Of Philadelphia’s Heroin Epidemic | NBC Nightly News

December 8, 2019


BROUGHT BACK ARE
GRAPHIC.
>>COME ON, POPPY, WAKE UP, DUDE.
>>Reporter: IT’S A
LIFE AND DEATH MOMENT. >>I GOT TO GET TO THE
OTHER NOSTRIL.
>>Reporter: A MAN OVERDOSES ON HEROIN
AND METH AT A PARK IN
PHILADELPHIA. PEOPLE RUSHING TO HIS
SIDE INCLUDING A FIRST
RESPONDER WHO ADMINISTERS THE LIFE
SAVING ANTIDOTE
NARCAN. >>GO GRAB ANOTHER
DOSE.
>>Reporter: SHERRI KOWOLSKY IS SPECIALLY
TRAINED TO USE THE
NASAL SPRAY SOMETHING NOT IN HER JOB
DESCRIPTION.
KOWOLSKY IS A LIBRARIAN, ONE OF
SEVERAL IN HER LIBRARY
TRAINED TO USE THE DRUG.
>>ONCE SOMEONE IS
OVERDOSING, A MINUTE OR 30 SECONDS CAN MEAN
LIFE OR DEATH.
>>Reporter: SHE NORMALLY WORKS WITH
TEENS AT HER BRANCH,
ONE OF THE BUSIEST IN THE CITY.
>>WHEN I DECIDED TO
BECOME A LIBRARIAN I LOOKED AT IT FROM I
WANTED TO SERVE
COMMUNITIES. >>Reporter: THE
CENTURY-OLD BUILDING
IN THE HEART OF PHILADELPHIA’S
KENSINGTON
NEIGHBORHOOD SITS IN THE MIDDLE OF
McPHERSON SQUARE PARK
KNOWN TO MANY AS NEEDLE PARK.
>>KIDS AND THE TEENS
HAVE TO SEE THIS STUFF ON A REGULAR BASIS.
IT’S UPSETTING THAT
THIS IS THEIR NORMAL. >>Reporter: THE PARK
IS ON THE FRONT LINES
OF THE NATION’S HEROIN EPIDEMIC, WITH
EVIDENCE OF BATTLES
LOST, SCATTERED LIKE WEEDS.
>>WE PROBABLY PICK UP
WITH NEEDLES 50 ON UP MAYBE.
>>Reporter: 50 A DAY?
>>YES. >>Reporter: PARK
WORKER RAFAEL
FELICIANO FINDS HIMSELF HELPING
ADDICTS IN THE PARK.
HIS WORKLOAD IS INCREASED
DRAMATICALLY.
THE CITY’S PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT
PREDICTS ALMOST 1,200
OPIOID DEATHS IN PHILADELPHIA THIS
YEAR, UP 32% FROM LAST
YEAR AND THE PARKS SURROUNDING THE
LIBRARY HAS BECOME A
FOCAL POINT. >>THE OPIOID CRISIS,
THE HEROIN CRISIS WAS
KNOCKING AT THIS LIBRARY’S FRONT DOOR.
IT WAS CAMPING OUT ON
ITS LAWN. >>Reporter:
PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER
COLUMNIST MIKE NEWELL STARTED WRITING ABOUT
IT WHEN HE LEARNED OF
A BIG INCREASE OF PEOPLE BUYING, SELLING
AND USING IN THE PARK
AND HANGING AROUND THE LIBRARY.
HE WAS MORE SHOCKED TO
LEARN HOW THE LIBRARIANS TOOK
MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN
HANDS. >>THEY GOT NARCAN
TRAINING.
THEY STARTED HAVING — MANY LIBRARIES HAVE
FIRE DRILLS.
THEY HAVE OVERDOSE DRILLS.
>>HALF A DOSE IN ONE
NOSTRIL AND HALF IN THE OTHER.
>>Reporter: AND IT’S
WORKING. SINCE APRIL, KOWOLSKY
REVIVED PEOPLE WHO
OVERDOSED SIX TIMES, INCLUDING THIS WEEK
JUST AFTER WE SPOKE
WITH HER, JUMPING OUT OF THE LIBRARY TO SAVE
THAT MAN, AS WE
WATCHED. >>CALM, LAY DOWN.
>>YOU’RE FIGHTING.
YOU CAN’T DO THIS, POPPY.
>>Reporter: WHEN THE
RIB BRAER SITS AT THE CROSSROADS OF A CRISIS
RAVAGING ITS
COMMUNITY, SERVICES HERE ARE A LIFESAVER.
>>IT’S LIFE OR DEATH
FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE. IT’S A SECOND CHANCE.
>>Reporter: STEVE
PATTERSON, NBC NEWS, PHILADELPHIA.
>>THE MAYOR’S OFFICE
SAYS THAT OUTREACH WORKERS HAVE BEEN SENT
TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
AND THAT A POLICE MOBILE COMMAND CEN

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