ORLANDO, Fla. – Overdoses happen anywhere and everywhere, including college campuses. So, the University of Central Florida has started training students on what to do if they see someone overdosing to save their life.
The training sessions began late last year. Twice a month in a campus classroom, clinical PhD student Gabrielle Lynch spends two hours teaching other UCF students how to recognize if someone is in trouble and what to do about it.
Lynch applied her research and education to help create the training.
“To make sure that it’s research-based,” Lynch explained. “Because there are a lot of intervention programs out there that aren’t research-based and so we want to make it as effective as a possible by including the research background.”
UCF calls it “Bystander Training.”
Under Lynch’s guidance, the students role play, as bystanders, practicing how to intervene.
Maridith Baker, a UCF peer advocate, attended the most recent training session. As an advocate, Baker is paid by the University to talk to other students about staying healthy.
“Oh yeah especially being around teenagers and other college students, you never know where or when something can happen,” Baker said. “Definitely I’m able to be more prepared in the event of an emergency if there was someone that was in a situation that they needed help.”
Lynch said most of the students who attend the training, at least for now, are “influential” — athletes, resident assistants, Greek life members — anyone who could tell anyone else about taking action in an emergency. That’s how UCF hopes to eventually reach the entire campus.
“Before, if I remember correctly, there was about 70% of them [students taking the training] that said they had felt uncomfortable with it [taking action in an overdose situation] or didn’t have confidence with it, and at the end, none of the students reported feeling uncomfortable,” Lynch said. “That was pretty great.”
Maureen Hawkins, UCF director for Wellness and Health Promotion Services, said the training is also about empowering students.
“And so we want to make sure our students have the skills to act in case they encounter a situation where they could be helping a friend,” Hawkins said. “Because they might need to.”
More than 250 students have already attended the training.
Bystander Training is open to all students. Find more information on upcoming sessions here.
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