Opioid Crisis In The East: Insight on the first responders perspective

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According to the National Institute on Drug abuse, more than 130 people in the U.S. die after overdosing on opioids. 

Alarming statistics are prompting a nationwide initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of drug abuse. 

Greenville Fire and Rescue Veteran Lisa Davis-Christ understands the harsh reality of overdoses.

“I’ve been called out several times for the same person on the same day, same week,” said Lt. Davis-Christ. “I don’t even know how many, I’ve been on, maybe 100, maybe more.” 

20 years of reviving patients addicted to drugs, one of which happens to be opioids. 

“I’ve seen it at it’s highest peak and when it’s at lowest,” said Lt. Davis-Christ. 

The crisis it’s home for Davis-Christ, not only as a first responder and parent of 2 young children. 

“I’ve known about three families that I know personally that have been affected by opioids that have lost children,” said Lt. Davis-Christ. “I’ve seen a lot of young kids in their 20’s that are addicted to opioids.” 

The community may see this line of duty as saving lives; but, behind the scenes is where emotions run high for Davis-Christ. 

“It wears on you that over and over, we just keep going through this devastation,” said Lt. Davis-Christ. “It’s basically someone just ruining their lives.” 

Nevertheless, Lieutenant Davis-Christ believes there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

Throughout the past few years, G.F.R. is seeing a decrease in overdoses due in large part to awareness.

“In the last few years, we have done a better job within the community at the Fire Rescue,” said Lt. Davis-Christ. “Outreach programs and just educating the public.” 

 Lora Maynard is a fellow veteran with the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office. Before her tenure, she lived in West Virginia. 

In 2016, West Virginia had the highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  

“The opioid crisis is very different than other drug epidemics that we’ve seen in our country,” said Maynard. “The death rate is much higher than other drugs that we’ve seen.” 

The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office was the first law enforcement agency in North Carolina to start administering and implementing a policy to use Narcan.  

Special programs and seminars are used to help educate the community about the dangers of overdoses. 

First responders have several resources available for them after responding to an overdose call. Sessions with counselors and peer discussions are a few. 

“The County E.M.S. has started a community paramedic program,” said Maynard. “It’s been very valuable to first responders.” 

Law enforcement leaders like Sheriff Paula Dance has rolled out her plans to help with the crisis. 

Sheriff’s Heroin Addiction Recovery Program or S.H.A.R.P. is Sheriff’s Dance first plan to help those that are incarcerated. The goal is to help them transition and understand the resources that are available for them before leaving prison.  

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