Growing increasingly alarmed by rising call volume for heroin and opiate overdoses, St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] Paramedics over the past 18 months rolled out a multi-pronged program designed to combat the epidemic. This week, the American Ambulance Association [AAA] honored SCCAD’s efforts with a 2017 AMBY Award in the category of Community Impact Program. Paramedics and leadership staff from the District accepted the honor at the AAA’s annual meeting.
SCCAD’s opiate-related programming began last year with #stopheroin, a prevention campaign highlighted by a powerful video showing a re-enactment of a heroin overdose call. In March 2017, in cooperation with a ever-growing network of treatment partners, the Substance Use Recovery Response Team [SURRT] debuted, and directly links those successfully revived following an overdose with treatment if they want help. SCCAD’s Paramedics have successfully placed nearly 63 percent of those referred after an overdose in treatment programs. Finally, in July, the District partnered with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse [NCADA] to provide families who have a loved one struggling with addiction with free Narcan to be administered prior to EMS arrival; a program funded by the MoHope grant awarded to NCADA.
“We’re fortunate to serve a community that has demonstrated the incredible power of collaboration – treatment partners, school districts, media, civic groups and others have been wholly supportive of these efforts, greatly contributing to our success,” said SCCAD Chief Taz Meyer. “We’re humbled and proud to be recognized at this national level, and share this honor with our partners throughout the region.”
In less than a decade, SCCAD has seen call volume for heroin and opiate overdoses more than double. Paramedics responded to 192 such calls in 2008, and last year responded to 426. This year, the problem has continued to grow: currently, year-to-date opiate overdose call volume is up 23 percent over 2016. Communities throughout the nation have experienced similar growth, prompting President Trump in October to declare the problem a National Emergency.
The American Ambulance Association promotes health care policies that ensure excellence in the ambulance services industry and provides research, education and communications programs to enable members to effectively address the needs of communities they serve. Their AMBY awards program is designed to showcase creativity and innovation in the industry by fostering a culture of collaboration, cooperation and a passion for excellence in patient care.