PORT Partnership plans to address overdose epidemic with immediate response

Team created to prevent overdoses

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Neighbors in Rowan County are taking a bold approach to deal with the overdose epidemic. County agencies have partnered to set up what’s called a Post Overdose Response Team, or PORT, to respond to overdose cases in an effort to help the revived victim to break the habit and get help.

“Rowan continues to struggle with opioids and overdoses," said Rowan County Health Department Director Nina Oliver.

Just since July 15, ten people in Rowan County have died from a heroin overdose.

At a presentation on Thursday, Oliver gave details on the Post Overdose Response Team. It’s an effort to speak to overdose victims and families in the minutes after they’ve been revived by paramedics.

The Health Department is working in collaboration with Rowan Emergency Services and The Center for Prevention Services on the project.

The team will intervene directly in affected communities to provide outreach and support. The team will assist both active users, and those further along in the recovery process, by providing peer counselling, group therapy, and other support.

“I had a lot of emotional pain and turmoil that I didn’t know how to deal with," said Ashley Creek.

Creek has been there, she’s a former addict who is now part of the PORT team. She thinks going to the victim as soon as possible will make a difference.

“There is a lot of treatment facilities out there, there is a lot of things going on to try to address addition, but when I was in addiction, I didn’t know about any of them," Creek added.

The PORT is made up of a Certified Peer Support Specialist, a Harm Reduction Advocate, and a Community Paramedic who will reach out and will try to connect identified individuals to the available services, treatment and resources available within 48-72 hours of contact.

PORT team member Jeff Brown is the Community Paramedic. As part of the response, each victim is given a NARCAN kit that contains two doses of the overdose reversing drug, and much more.

“They have a variety of agencies, contact numbers for any level of mental health or recovery that they’re interested in," Brown said.

After the initial contact there’s follow up within 72 hours, and hopefully, that victim agrees to receive rehabilitation.

“People bounce back from difficult situations, tragic situations, healthier and faster if they receive the support and the resources from us that they need," said Rowan Emergency Services Chief Chris Soliz.

A grant of $285,326 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina funded this effort.

Anyone seeking available services and interventions can call 704-245-6521 (option 3).

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.