WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A new kind of vending machine is coming to Kansas by the end of the year.
It will be stocked not with food or drinks but with the opioid reversal medication Narcan, as well as Fentanyl test strips.
Sedgwick County is getting one of the six machines. It will likely be placed in downtown Wichita. Crawford, Reno, Douglas, Wyandotte, and Johnson counties will also each receive one.
The charge to bring the machines into the state is being led by DCCCA, a non-profit that offers substance abuse services.
Staff already ship free Narcan to people who request it.
The vending machines will save on mailing costs and make the medication more accessible, according to the organization.
She’s six years sober, but Emma Whittington still remembers her rock bottom.
“About seven years ago, I was at the Wichita zoo with my family, and I used fentanyl prior to going,” Whittington said.
She turned black and blue in the parking lot, passing out.
“Pretty much overdosed and died there,” Whittington said.
Narcan is more accessible now than back then, according to Whittington.
“If it wasn’t for the sheriff who had Narcan on him, I don’t know where I’d be today,” Whittington said.
Other friends and loved ones were not so lucky.
“I have a twin brother who had overdosed and passed away in 2010, and Narcan was not, you know, a thing,” Whittington said.
DCCCA is placing the machines in areas where they see the most demand for naloxone.
Need is up significantly this year, according to the organization.
“Sedgwick County is one of the highest utilizers of our Kansas naloxone program,” said Chrissy Mayer, Chief Community-Based Service Officer for DCCCA. “So we’re shipping a lot of product to Sedgwick County.”
Each machine will hold 150 kits, giving people like Whittington a second chance at life.
Whittington now uses her experience to help others as a substance abuse counselor.
“There’s gonna be people who don’t agree with this, but I think the fact that to save people’s lives is worth it,” Whittington said.