COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Like many cities in Ohio, Middletown is struggling to deal with their own heroin problem.
City leaders there are frustrated trying to find a solution.
One of them has proposed a controversial measure. Council member Dan Picard is proposing a three strikes system.
The first two strike after an overdose — the person would perform community service for the equivalent amount of money used on the lifesaving response.
The third strike is a bit more controversial.
“If the dispatcher determines that the person who’s overdosed is someone who’s been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn’t dispatch,” Picard said.
Middletown Fire disagrees with that proposition and said they are required by law to provide Narcan.
Locally, Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin said he is not going to wade into politics, but said they are in the lifesaving business. NBC4 obtained their Mission Statement which states the words “preservation of life and property.”
Martin said Columbus Fire runs on more than 10 possible overdoses a day and during that time administers on average 16 doses of Narcan during those runs.
He said beyond working to save the lives of addicts, they are trying something different.
“Our goal is to keep them alive. We are doing everything we can to not only save their life, but to get them in a recovery program,” Martin said.
They have started RREACT, Rapid Response Emergency Addiction Crisis Team to help addicts soon after administering Narcan.
“If they are willing to accept treatment, the RREACT team comes out to them with the mental health professional and we try to get them involved in recovery at that moment after Narcan is given,” he said.
Martin says their focus is to stop the cycle of Narcan use by getting addicts to accept treatment at the scene.
“Rather than to turn them down and 12 hours later their pain and their drive to seek another dose of heroin is forefront in their mind, and here we go again,” said Martin.
Since the spring, Columbus Fire has added five full-time medics because the increased number of EMS runs.
Another local fire department tells NBC4 some addicts get angry after Narcan is administered and they refuse to be transported to area hospitals, and relapse into another overdose. Local health care leaders recently met to discuss possible ways to stem the repeated Narcan overdose cycle.