Robert Zabbia is President of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce and...

Robert Zabbia is President of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce and a downtown business owner who will participate in the “Operation Safe Spot” program.

  Credit: Howard Simmons

Businesses in Massapequa are taking a front-line approach to public safety as part of a pilot program that will outfit them with Narcan and training to help save lives in the community.

Sign-ups for “Operation Safe Spot” kicked off late last month with more than a dozen businesses agreeing to display signage in their storefronts that identify the locations as go-to spots to aid people in emergency situations.

Robert Zabbia, president of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce and owner of Zabbia Insurance Agency on North Broadway in Massapequa, said he heard the chamber did a similar program years ago that fell by the wayside. He decided to revive the effort in light of an increase of fatal overdoses on Long Island.

The Nassau County Medical Examiner’s office said at least 270 people died of overdoses last year, with fentanyl responsible for 190 of those deaths.

“Fentanyl, if you don’t get to it right away, it could be the difference between life and death,” said Zabbia, whose business takes part in the initiative. “And it helps our small businesses because it just promotes the fact that we're not just here to make money — we're here to help the community.”

Drug Free Long Island is supplying Narcan, first aid kits and training to the businesses at no cost. Nearly 20 businesses signed up for the program as of Dec. 1, said Janice Talento, chair of the nonprofit. She has a goal of surpassing 50 businesses by the end of the year.

Talento said when she first heard about the plan to launch Operation Safe Spot, overdose numbers were among her primary concerns.

“It’s great that businesses are going to put this up if someone needs to make a phone call because they have a flat tire, but what if someone is really hurt?” Talento said. “In today’s world, we know people overdose on streets, in back parking lots.”

Narcan, a brand name for naloxone and a medication designed to quickly reverse an opioid overdose, is a primary tool to help counter that concern. 

“You don't know if someone’s going to get there in two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes, and depending upon what state of their overdose you find them in, that 10 minutes can be crucial,” said Talento, who will conduct the Narcan trainings and begin distributing kits beginning in early December.

Other skills, like rescue breathing and knowing how to position people who are nonresponsive, will be covered in the sessions, she said.

The signage in store windows will feature QR codes that can connect passers-by with the Nassau County police precinct that serves the area and an anonymous tip line to report suspicious behavior, Zabbia said. 

Supervisor Joseph Saladino said the program was centered on creating a connection between businesses and the community by providing a clear marker that “Safe Spots” were havens for those in need of help, whether it’s to help people concerned for their safety or to provide lifesaving Narcan treatment.

“This is so important for our community to have this higher level of safety,” Saladino said.

Businesses in Massapequa are taking a front-line approach to public safety as part of a pilot program that will outfit them with Narcan and training to help save lives in the community.

Sign-ups for “Operation Safe Spot” kicked off late last month with more than a dozen businesses agreeing to display signage in their storefronts that identify the locations as go-to spots to aid people in emergency situations.

Robert Zabbia, president of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce and owner of Zabbia Insurance Agency on North Broadway in Massapequa, said he heard the chamber did a similar program years ago that fell by the wayside. He decided to revive the effort in light of an increase of fatal overdoses on Long Island.

The Nassau County Medical Examiner’s office said at least 270 people died of overdoses last year, with fentanyl responsible for 190 of those deaths.

“Fentanyl, if you don’t get to it right away, it could be the difference between life and death,” said Zabbia, whose business takes part in the initiative. “And it helps our small businesses because it just promotes the fact that we're not just here to make money — we're here to help the community.”

Drug Free Long Island is supplying Narcan, first aid kits and training to the businesses at no cost. Nearly 20 businesses signed up for the program as of Dec. 1, said Janice Talento, chair of the nonprofit. She has a goal of surpassing 50 businesses by the end of the year.

Talento said when she first heard about the plan to launch Operation Safe Spot, overdose numbers were among her primary concerns.

“It’s great that businesses are going to put this up if someone needs to make a phone call because they have a flat tire, but what if someone is really hurt?” Talento said. “In today’s world, we know people overdose on streets, in back parking lots.”

Narcan, a brand name for naloxone and a medication designed to quickly reverse an opioid overdose, is a primary tool to help counter that concern. 

“You don't know if someone’s going to get there in two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes, and depending upon what state of their overdose you find them in, that 10 minutes can be crucial,” said Talento, who will conduct the Narcan trainings and begin distributing kits beginning in early December.

Other skills, like rescue breathing and knowing how to position people who are nonresponsive, will be covered in the sessions, she said.

The signage in store windows will feature QR codes that can connect passers-by with the Nassau County police precinct that serves the area and an anonymous tip line to report suspicious behavior, Zabbia said. 

Supervisor Joseph Saladino said the program was centered on creating a connection between businesses and the community by providing a clear marker that “Safe Spots” were havens for those in need of help, whether it’s to help people concerned for their safety or to provide lifesaving Narcan treatment.

“This is so important for our community to have this higher level of safety,” Saladino said.

Operation Safe Spot

  • The Massapequa Chamber of Commerce has launched a pilot program that provides Narcan, first aid kits and related training to businesses.
  • Participating businesses will receive a sign indicating they are go-to spots for emergencies.
  • Drug Free Long Island is supplying the Narcan kits and providing training to businesses at no cost. 
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