Category: Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2023

Title:A life-saving moment inspires students’ award-winning Public Policy Challenge proposal

Author: Mariel Jackson
Date Published: April 14, 2023
four women in lab coats stand with a check
From left to right: Kira Chandran (M’23), Chloe Wang (M’23), Ruth Watson (M’23), Pei-Ying Kobres (M’23) are trying to deploy more opioid rescue kits in DC. Photo: Michael F. Watson

On a routine trip to the grocery store, Georgetown University School of Medicine students Kira Chandran (M’23), Chloe Wang (M’23), and Ruth Watson (M’23), active members of the Hoya Drug Overdose Prevention & Education Project (Hoya DOPE), were unexpectedly called to put their substance use, addiction, and overdose education to the test.

From their car window, they saw a man being carried across the pavement. He looked visibly blue, and without hesitation, they veered off onto a one-way street to help. Wang and Watson jumped out of the car, armed with the opioid reversal medication naloxone, commonly known as NARCAN, and approached the man. The medical students called 911 and immediately began the overdose intervention protocol, administering a first and then a second dose of the reversal medication.

an opioid rescue kit
Photo: Courtesy of

“If we didn’t have naloxone on hand, the man we responded to may not have survived 10 minutes of waiting for EMTs to arrive,” says Wang. “Saving his life was a really impactful moment for all of us.”

Responding to a near-fatal overdose in their own backyard inspired Chandran, Wang, Watson, and their classmate PeiYing Kobres (M’23) to develop a harm-reduction strategy to make opioid reversal medication more accessible to DC residents.

“At the height of the pandemic, emergency departments saw a significant increase in opioid overdoses,” says Wang. “It can be an emotional burden on health care workers and can take a toll on our hospital system.”

The medical students devised a plan to install NaloxBox, a weather-proof opioid rescue kit that includes naloxone, at bus stops around DC. Their proposal, “Within Reach: Ending Opioid-Related Deaths in the District,” was recognized by the annual Georgetown Public Policy Challenge as the most outstanding innovative policy solution to help address a challenge in the DC community. The Challenge, which is hosted by the McCourt School of Public Policy, is now in its eighth year.

“Our shared goal is to shorten the time between an overdose and administering naloxone,” says Watson. “NaloxBox has deployed 1,800 rescue kits nationally, and we believe it could be successfully implemented in DC.”

Chandran, Wang, Watson, and Kobres are actively working with DC stakeholders to implement a pilot project based on their proposal and, along with fellow Hoya DOPE members, continue to host community education sessions on opioid overdose and training. They hope to play a pivotal role in combating substance use, addiction, and overdose as future doctors.

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