Seattle to launch new overdose response unit to battle fentanyl epidemic – State of Reform

Seattle to launch new overdose response unit to battle fentanyl epidemic – State of Reform

Metropolis officers will make the most of a brand new overdose response unit to assist deal with Seattle’s ongoing battle with fentanyl.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell mentioned the initiative throughout an deal with at Kasama Pioneer Sq. on Monday. He issued an executive order to revitalize the downtown space, which incorporates the creation of the overdose response unit.

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“The fentanyl disaster on our streets is inflicting demise and dysfunction,” Harrell stated. “We’ve an obligation to do extra for these affected by substance abuse dysfunction. The fentanyl disaster is simply taking part in out on our streets, and we see it each single day.”

Harrell stated Seattle had 589 overdose deaths in 2022 (with the vast majority of deaths attributed to fentanyl and methamphetamines) in comparison with 342 in 2021.

“However even 342 is alarming,” he stated. “That was a rise of 72%. Overdose is the main reason behind unintentional deadly harm in King County. And it’s our most weak who’re impacted disproportionately. These numbers are staggering …”

Town’s strategy to addressing the fentanyl crisis will probably be two-pronged, Harrell stated. Regulation enforcement officers will try and disrupt the distribution and sale of artificial medication, whereas additionally arresting narcotics traffickers. That effort will probably be coupled with an evidence-based public well being strategy to assist individuals scuffling with dependancy, he stated.

“We will probably be convening a working process pressure to determine how that works from a coordinated effort,” Harrell stated. “We’d like progressive applications to reply to overdoses, and we have to join (addicts) with confirmed therapy restoration companies. We’re piloting a research-based drug abatement program generally known as contingency administration in an effort to encourage people with substance abuse dysfunction to simply accept therapy companies. We are going to do what is sensible to get individuals into therapy.”

Town will develop the Seattle Fireplace Division’s Health One program to incorporate an overdose response unit devoted to swiftly partaking overdose survivors with a view to enhance their acceptance of companies or referrals. A part of that work will embrace increasing entry to the overdose reversal treatment Narcan in areas that see excessive cases of overdoses, Harrell stated.

“We’re going to be convening a gathering with our public well being companions to ascertain a post-overdose diversion facility the place individuals may be introduced after nonfatal overdoses to get better,” he added. “We’ve to quote it, fund it, discover a method to fund it, (and) work with funding companions. However we notice we’ve a scarcity of entry for most of these services.”

Well being One program employees reply to people instantly of their second of want to assist them navigate emergency conditions and decide whether or not they want medical care, psychological healthcare, shelter, or different social companies. Through the deal with, Seattle Fireplace Chief Harold Scoggins stated this system has been working since 2019, and the firefighters and case managers that employees it excel at constructing relationships.

“And actually, that’s what that is all about,” Scoggins stated. “What we’re going to be including on the road is, when an individual has an overdose, typically 911 known as. And what’s going to occur now could be Well being One can also be going to reply to that overdose. However Well being One comes with case managers and firefighters who’re skilled in another way, to truly speak to people and actually clarify the assets which can be out there to them.”

After an overdose state of affairs has been addressed, and emergency personnel have left the scene, Well being One employees will stay there with a view to provide assets that may help the person, Scoggins stated.

“Not simply the day of (the incident),” he stated. “They’re going to test within the day after, identical to we do (with) individuals in disaster, people who find themselves homeless, and so many different issues. Our objective is to supply assets and get them to the place they have to be. And our firefighters may be fairly persistent in getting individuals the place they have to be.”

The division presently makes use of three Well being One models, and they’ll function the brand new overdose response unit, Scoggins stated. The pilot program will function for 3 to 6 months, and employees will document knowledge on its progress, and relay that data to the mayor.

State lawmakers are contemplating laws that would additionally help with overdose conditions. Senate Bill 5022 would legalize equipment used to check substances for fentanyl in Washington, which might make medication like Narcan extra accessible. SB 5022 handed within the Senate on March seventh, and was permitted by the Home Committee on Group Security, Justice, and Reentry on March twenty seventh. It’s now within the Home Guidelines Committee.

Through the deal with, Seattle Metropolis Councilmember Sara Nelson stated dependancy is a trigger and consequence of continual homelessness, which prompted her to propose a pilot program to assist cowl the prices of therapy for substance use issues for individuals who can’t afford them final 12 months.

“It’s to broaden our strategy to substance use dysfunction and broaden the scope of the therapy companies we’ve to supply,” Nelson stated. “As a result of it was obvious to me that we’ve an ethical obligation to step up our efforts and take a look at one thing new. This govt order speaks to that urgency.”

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