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An Innovative Partnership to Combat the Opioid Epidemic Across the South Shore

Post Date:02/05/2019 8:00 AM

The Oak Creek Health, Police, and Fire departments, in coordination with these agencies in the cities of Cudahy, Saint Francis, and South Milwaukee, have been awarded an Emergency Preparedness Grant to assist with responding to the opioid epidemic. The communities initially applied for $80,000 of funding and received $70,000. The City of Cudahy is the lead fiscal agent for the grant. This cooperative effort will focus on four main collaborative components:

  • Utilizing and reviewing the real time reporting of overdoses through OD Map. This program is currently used by our Fire Department to log overdoses as they occur within our community. Health Department staff recently gained access to this mapping system to review where overdoses are occurring in our community and to monitor for spikes in overdoses.
  • Provide training for police, fire, and health personnel in Trauma Informed Care, which will help our first responders and health care workers to better recognize and respond to the various types of trauma that impact children and adults in our communities. These adverse experiences have been shown to contribute to substance abuse, mental health issues, domestic abuse, and child abuse. Training will be provided in coordination with SaintA, a leader in Trauma Informed Care.
  • Establishing a Quick Response Team (QRT) that consists of a police officer, public health team member, and recovery or peer support specialist. Each community will develop their own QRT, which will review recent nonfatal overdoses and will attempt to make contact with the overdose victim or family members to offer assistance in obtaining treatment. This type of intervention program is relatively new but has been implemented with some success in communities such as Canton, Ohio.
    Implementing a public awareness campaign, which will be done primarily through the use of social media.

We consider this to be a $70,000 investment in addressing a crisis that does not seem to be abating. According to the American Public Health Association, every $1 spent on mental health and addiction services saves $7 in healthcare costs and $30 in productivity and social costs. Of note, the South Shore communities saw 28 accidental overdose deaths in 2018, and there were 74 non-fatal overdoses reported by the police departments.

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