Concord receives initial funding for mobile opioid response program

Published: 2/24/2019 5:13:04 PM

First responders in Concord, Dunbarton, Epping, Hooksett and Laconia have received an initial round of grant funding to help connect people who suffer from substance abuse with emergency services.

The Executive Council approved the multimillion-dollar federal grant last week, with the most money so far awarded to Concord to help firefighters and police officers combat the opioid crisis. Concord received nearly $127,000 to implement the program and hire a contract employee to be the in-house opioid program manager for the fire department, said Concord fire Chief Dan Andrus.

The New Hampshire Project FIRST (First Responders Initiative Recovery, Support and Treatment) is a multi-year program that aims to connect at-risk individuals with community support systems. The model is similar in nature to the “safe stations” program used in Manchester, where people can walk into a fire station at any time and request help in getting connected to recovery services. However, the FIRST model isn’t stationary; the purpose is to create a mobile opioid response team that can make non-emergency house calls, as well as train and educate at-risk individuals and their families on opioid use disorder and naloxone administration.

“The program goals are to reduce opioid overdoses and overdose fatalities, and connect individuals to treatment and other social services, as well as training individuals on CPR/rescue breathing, the Good Samaritan Law, and naloxone (Narcan) administration,” according to Paula Holigan, the state’s Project FIRST’s program manager.

The mobile unit will work in conjunction with the state’s “hub and spoke” system to care for those who suffer from opioid dependency. Dialing 211 directs the caller to one of the nine state hubs – including Riverbend Community Mental Health, which serves the Concord area.

New Hampshire has remained in the top 3 states for opioid overdoses and overdose deaths in the United States since 2014.

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