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Front Page - Friday, August 30, 2019

Fire department to provide safe haven for individuals struggling with opioid addictions

Every Chattanooga fire station will be a 24-hour haven soon where individuals struggling with opioid addictions can be connected to treatment and recovery options.

The Chattanooga Fire Department has partnered with the Hamilton County Coalition’s Nu-Start program to launch the Safe Stations initiative in Chattanooga.

Individuals struggling with opioid addiction will be able to go to any Safe Station and speak with the firefighters on duty. The firefighters will arrange for, or provide, a medical assessment.

If there is something else medically or psychiatrically wrong with the patient, then Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services will provide transportation to an appropriate medical facility.

If there is not a medical or psychiatric concern, the individual will either be picked up by a Nu-Start team member or transported to a respite facility until care arrives.

“If we can help prevent one overdose through this proactive intervention, then it will be worth the effort,” says Seth Miller, executive deputy chief of the Chattanooga Fire Department. “Our hope is that this connection to the Nu-Start program can help prevent many overdose situations.”

Prior to the Safe Stations program, the CFD would have responded to an overdose and provided patient care but would not have connected individuals with follow-up care.

Each individual seeking assistance will be required to drop any needles and paraphernalia in their possession into a collection bin located at the Safe Station prior to seeking treatment.

If the individual seeking assistance possesses any weapons, the Chattanooga Police Department will become involved.

If illegal substances are in the possession of an Individuals seeking assistance, Chattanooga Police Department will be notified for disposal purposes only.

The Safe Stations initiative will launch on Aug. 31, known as International Overdose Awareness Day. The Hamilton County Coalition will host numerous events throughout Chattanooga to launch the initiative and spread awareness of the signs and risks of abusing prescription drugs or alcohol.

Events will be held at Station 1 (218 E. Main St.) at 9:30 a.m., Bethlehem Center (200 W. 38th St.) from 10 a.m.-noon and Focus Treatment Center (7429 Shallowford Road) from 10 a.m.-noon.

The Hamilton County Coalition is a non-profit organization working to reduce tobacco and drug abuse through education.

Sources: Chattanooga Fire Department; The Hamilton County Coalition