Summit County, OH – The County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board is recognizing frontline workers and first responders during a week of appreciation, April 9-13, 2018. The ADM Board encourages all citizens of Summit County to find a way to show gratitude to their local safety forces and those that work in the medical and counseling fields during this week. “No gesture is too small,” noted Jerry Craig, executive director of the County of Summit ADM Board. “There is no doubt our community was hit hard by the opiate epidemic the last two years. In that time period our safety forces responded to over 4,700 overdoses in the community, our ERs were flooded with patients and our system of care was overwhelmed by the need for timely substance abuse treatment. The individuals on the frontlines responded tremendously to the calling to help those fighting addiction, and I truly believe their efforts should be recognized.”
In 2017 the ADM Board partnered with local safety forces and treatment agencies to deploy Quick Response Teams (QRTs) in communities hit hard by overdoses. QRTs are made up of a police officer, medic and counselor. They visit the homes of people who experience an overdose, provide support, information and a warm hand off to treatment. Ten jurisdictions operate QRTs in the county and made 2,986 visits last year. The city of Akron led the way in number of visits at over 800, while Barberton/Norton and Cuyahoga Falls visited 758 and 592 respectively. In total 330 individuals chose to get help after a QRT visit.
There are promising signs that collective efforts may be reducing the impact of opioids in Summit County. For example, in Akron alone there have been three confirmed overdose deaths compared to 30 this time last year. However, that doesn’t mean the work is done. “We can’t point to any one thing that will change the course of this epidemic, but what we can do is continue to be vigilant and work together to find solutions that help people access treatment when they need it,” added Craig.
“This week of appreciation is important because we see every day the difficulty and pain so many of our frontline fighters face as they work to help individuals in need. The positive impact that recovery from addiction can have on individuals, families, job growth, community safety, and overall economic development cannot be overstated,” added Craig.
The ADM Board encourages people to get involved by writing letters to the editor, sending thank you notes to local agencies and police/fire stations, and doing other acts of kindness. Participants are also encouraged to share their messages online using the hashtag #330responds.