City of Akron Launches Quick Response Team (QRT) Outreach Approach to Opiate Epidemic
Fire medic, police officer, and counselor to knock on doors of recent overdose patients to connect them with rehab services and support Akron, Ohio, March 2, 2017— Today, the City of Akron launched its QRT (Quick Response Team) outreach program to be deployed throughout Akron's neighborhoods. Mayor Dan Horrigan announced the launch of the QRT Program during his State of the City Address earlier this week. Akron is one of the largest cities in Ohio to pilot a QRT approach to address the heroin and fentanyl epidemic. Akron's new QRTs—an outreach team comprised of an Akron police officer, an Akron fire medic, and a treatment counselor from Summit County Public Health—will meet once a week and review a list of patients who overdosed in the previous week and were revived with Narcan. The team will then travel out into the community and visit these patients and their families to connect them with the resources they need to access rehab and supportive services. The treatment counselor works with the drug user to identify and personally facilitate placement into treatment. "We will have teams of specially-trained police officers, fire medics, and social workers knocking on the doors of residents in crisis and offering them help finding a way out," Mayor Horrigan said. "We have three primary goals in starting this program—reducing overdoses, getting more people into treatment, and, importantly, letting these individuals and their families know that someone cares about them, that the City cares about them, and that hope is out there." Today is the first day a QRT will be out in Akron neighborhoods. The City is piloting this program with weekly QRT outreach days, but it's likely that this will expand as the program progresses.
"We asked for volunteers from the Akron Fire Department and Akron Police Department," Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Charles Brown said. "It was important to the City that the individuals going door-to-door on these missions truly wanted to do outreach. We're not there to arrest anyone. Our officers and fire medics face tragic, hectic emergency overdose situations on a daily basis. The QRT program provides an opportunity for those officers and fire medics to see another side of this epidemic—the aftermath of an overdose; and connect with these patients on a human level and inspire them to seek treatment." According to the County of Summit ADM Board, Colerain Township (in Hamilton County) has experienced an 80% success rate in getting addicts into treatment through their QRT program. And, in the second half of 2015, Colerain saw a 30% reduction in opioid-related overdoses. "I am very hopeful that our QRT program will make a real impact on the heroin and fentanyl epidemic in our community. Importantly, I hope it sends a clear message to the individuals and families struggling with addiction: we care and stand ready to educate, support, and facilitate recovery." — Mayor Horrigan