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Higgins: $500,000 in federal funding awarded to support opioid training for first responders in Erie County


Fri, Aug 26th 2022 02:35 pm

Erie County Department of Health will provide Narcan & overdose recognition training

Congressman Brian Higgins announced a federal grant totaling $500,000 awarded to the Erie County Department of Health. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and awarded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the grant will provide training for first responders on Narcan use and overdose recognition.

“Our country is experiencing an opioid epidemic that has deeply impacted the Western New York community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Higgins said. “In order to help members of our community struggling with addiction, our first responders must understand the signs of an overdose so they can act quickly to save lives. This federal grant will provide first-responders in Erie County with continued training and new tools to give those struggling with the disease that is addiction another chance at life.”

Higgins’ team said, “In Erie County, opioid-related overdoses have risen each year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, reversing a three-year downward trend. In 2021, there were 286 overdose deaths, and this year the county is on track to reach or exceed this grim number.”

The grant provides funding toward the Erie County Department of Health’s first responder opioid epidemic task force support program, which will provide resources at the state, tribal and other government levels to train, carry and administer Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act-approved drugs and devices for emergency reversal of known or suspected opioid overdoses. Additionally, the grant funding will provide the county with resources to establish processes that will help to refer people into appropriate treatment and recovery support services. It will also assist in establishing safety protocols for situations that involve contact with fentanyl, carfentanil and other drugs.

Erie County will offer a series of trainings beginning in the fall through the first responder opioid epidemic task force support program.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Projects of Regional and National Significance grants are awarded by SAMHSA to states, local governments, tribes and tribal organizations, and other public or nonprofit private entities. The grants help address priority substance abuse, treatment, prevention, and mental health needs of communities. They seek to expand the availability of effective substance abuse treatment and recovery services to those affected by alcohol and drug additions, and to reduce the impact of alcohol and drug abuse on individuals, families, and communities.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz declared a public health crisis related to the opioid epidemic in 2016 when the county saw a record 301 deaths associated with drug overdoses. In response, the Opioid Epidemic Task Force was created to provide resources and undertake prevention efforts that educate the community on the dangers of addiction.

To learn more, visit https://www3.erie.gov/health/opiate-epidemic-task-force.

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