First responder agencies, healthcare professionals and those in public health offices organized pop up Narcan training and distribution sites.
It’s part of Operation RECOVERY, a campaign that focuses on tackling the growing concerns of substance abuse and opioid addiction.
It’s a collaboration between several agencies and organizations; Franklin County Sheriff’s Office H.O.P.E Task Force, Columbus Division of Fire and Columbus Division of Police RREACT, Franklin County Public Health, Columbus Public Health, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Southeast Healthcare.
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Columbus police officer Adam Ball said in the last six weeks they’ve seen an increase in overdoses, some fatal. He said they believe there is a connection to COVID-19.
“I think that it does correlate, obviously we’ve had people that haven’t been able to get out, haven’t been able to socialize, have not been able to reach their partners that help them through their addiction struggles and on top of that obviously on top of that a lot of people receive stimulus money so now we have full pockets, boredom,” Ball said.
That is why they want to continue the conversation about Narcan, how to use it, and how the community can work together to tackle this growing concern of substance abuse and opioid addiction.
“We have come together to try a harm reduction plan and put Narcan into the streets especially in the areas where people are suffering the most which are our West side South end Linden areas,” Ball said.
He said this initiative has been in the works for a couple of years, but back in October is really when they started full time.
On Saturday, the agencies and health officials set up pop up Narcan training and distribution sites in 12 different spots throughout the city.
“We’ve been able to put it into the hands of family members and even people who suffer from the substance use disorders; directly into their hands right in their own backyard,” Ball said.
At the sites they focus on Narcan training, distributing Narcan and Fentanyl test strips, and providing resources for anyone who may need them.
Sergeant Brian Toth with the Franklin County Sheriff’s H.O.P.E Task Force said during their efforts they will even personally door knock, checking in on people.
“We’re going to do actual follow-ups, so people that have overdoses – we’re actually going to knock on their door try to get them help if they want to go to rehab.,” Sgt. Toth said.
He said this is a joint effort between many people who want to help and make a difference.
“We have to do something about this we have to somehow start saving these lives the best way we know,” Sgt. Toth said.
Ball said events like this as well are held in hopes of breaking a stigma.
“A lot of these people have been afraid to come forward and ask for help and now they are coming forward and willing to tell us their stories and they’re willing to help us help them,” Ball said.
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