Wicker Pharmacy: Sheffield pharmacists save two lives the same week as receiving anti-overdose drug training

Staff members at a Sheffield pharmacy saved the lives of two people within a week of receiving vital training on an overdose-reversal drug.
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On International Overdose Awareness Day - August 31 - a new drug and alcohol support service in Sheffield has shared how its training on using a medication has saved the lives of two people within a week at one pharmacy.

Likewise, a community service in partnership with Humankind and Project 6, that launched at the start of August, has started rolling out training to the Sheffield community on how to use naloxone - a medicine that temporarily reverses the effects of an opiate overdose and buys vital time for emergency services to arrive.

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Staff at Wicker Pharmacy, at 55 Wicker, undertook training sessions with Likewise during August to ensure they were able to help if someone near their premises should accidentally overdose.

Staff at Wicker Pharmacy, at 55 Wicker, Sheffield, have had training on administering a life-saving medication. Staff at Wicker Pharmacy, at 55 Wicker, Sheffield, have had training on administering a life-saving medication.
Staff at Wicker Pharmacy, at 55 Wicker, Sheffield, have had training on administering a life-saving medication.

Within one week of completing this training, staff members found themselves applying their learning in real-life situations where people had overdosed. Without hesitation, they stepped up to save their lives.

One of these staff members was Joseph Ridge, a trainee pharmacy technician at Wicker.

“A member of the public came into the pharmacy reception and said that someone had collapsed nearby,” Joseph said. “As soon as I could, I went down the street and saw three other members of the public stood around the person collapsed on the floor. The members of the public were already on the phone to the ambulance service.”

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Joseph realised the person’s condition was extremely serious, so he called his colleague and asked them to bring the pharmacy’s defibrillator and their naloxone kits. 

As soon as his colleague arrived, he administered the naloxone to the person in need. There was unfortunately no response at this point.

Joseph remembered from his training that further doses of naloxone can be administered if someone experiencing an overdose remains unresponsive after a short amount of time has passed. After a couple of minutes, he decided to try again and administered a second dose of naloxone.

“Thankfully, the person did then come around,” Joseph said. “They still weren’t fully with us, but they were now moving on the floor. Quite quickly after that, the emergency services arrived and continued to tend to them.”

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Joseph’s ability to effectively apply the learning from his naloxone training saved the person’s life.

A similar situation occurred the same week as this incident on Wicker Pharmacy’s premises, which also led to another member of their team administering naloxone to someone they suspected was experiencing an opioid overdose. Their life was also saved by this team member’s action.

All staff at Wicker Pharmacy who may find themselves in a similar situation have now been fully trained by Likewise and equipped to use it in an emergency, like Joseph and his colleague.

Jon Findlay, national harm reduction lead at Humankind who led the naloxone training with Wicker Pharmacy staff, said: “Knowing people have directly saved someone’s life after engaging with your training offer is one of the most rewarding feelings I can imagine. Joseph and his colleagues are nothing short of heroes and I’m so thankful to them for carrying naloxone. It cannot be said enough: naloxone saves lives.”

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Sheffield City Council, in collaboration with Humankind and Likewise, is looking to expand the supply of naloxone across the city. Greg Fell, director of public health at Sheffield City Council, said: “The prompt actions of Joseph and his colleagues at the Wicker Pharmacy are recognised and applauded. The fact that they had been trained and were in possession of naloxone at the times of these events undoubtedly saved the lives of two people."