first responders

First responders thanked for bringing help to addicts, hope to community

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News First responders on the streets and in hospitals were thanked recently for bringing help to opiate addicts and hope to the community. Police, fire and EMS personnel gathered in the Wood County Courthouse atrium to receive the gratitude of local officials who realize the difference they make to many who are addicted to opiates, and their families. True to form, the first responders present shunned the spotlight – preferring to be in the background while others talked. “Not often enough do we take time out for the people who deal with it every day,” said Chris Streidl, interim director of Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. He pointed out the frequent efforts made to revive opiate addicts, so they can have another chance at life. “They bring help to those who need it. They bring hope to the community,” Streidl said. The roles of first responders continue to change – with more frequent and serious demands being placed on them. Marc Jensen, vice chair of the ADAMHS Board, talked about being a first responder for seven years. “You’re never trained enough. Every situation is different. Every situation is frightening. Every situation is soul-searing,” Jensen said. “But you keep doing it because it’s your duty.” The community needs to support those first responders, who are often hit by the severity of the situation hours after they return from the scene, he said. “Please give them your undying support and admiration,” Jensen said. Police, fire and EMS thanked for their efforts. The Wood County Commissioners also offered their support, including Craig LaHote, who was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for years. “It’s amazing to me how much the landscape has changed,” he said, noting all the new training requirements and difficult challenges. “We really appreciate all the first responders.” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw talked about the commitment of first responders – even when they aren’t on duty. “We want to thank first responders for always being there, even when you’re not in your uniform,” she said. “We know that you’re there for us. We are glad we have people willing to do that.” And Commissioner Ted Bowlus talked about the first responders putting themselves at risk when responding to calls, especially with extremely potent versions of opiates. “The first responders are putting the welfare of the patients ahead of themselves,” he said. Wood…


First responders honored for giving opiate addicts second, third and more chances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Those being honored Monday in the war against opiate abuse weren’t front and center. As usual, they were gathered far from the podium. “The first responders are all in the back of the room,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said. “Frankly that’s where they would prefer to be. They would much rather be out doing their jobs.” Those are the jobs they were being honored for on Monday – saving people from opiate overdoses. “They step into circumstances that we can’t imagine,” Dobson said. “They stand between us and danger in a very real sense on a daily basis.” EMS and law enforcement are being recognized across Ohio this week for saving people who overdose on opiates. In the Wood County Courthouse Atrium, the first responders were thanked by the second and third responders in the opiate crisis. To show appreciation in Wood County, that meant lunches will be delivered to fire and police stations throughout the week by Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “This is basically to say ‘thank you.’ We know it’s difficult work,” said Milan Karna, with the Wood County Prevention Coalition. A video was played, showing people who had been saved by first responders using narcan to revive them after overdoses. The faces thanked the first responders for not giving up on them – even if they had to respond to the same person for multiple overdoses. Tom Clemons, WCADAMHS director, used Dobson’s terminology of this war on opiates creating “refugees” in need of care. “It takes all of us working together on this,” Clemons said. On the front lines of this war are EMS, law enforcement, children’s services, and hospitals. “It is a widely recognized fact that a lot of first responders are putting themselves at risk,” with fentanyl being very dangerous to those treating overdose victims. But the use of narcan is giving opiate addicts another chance at life, Clemons said. “We’re seeing more and more people’s lives saved,” he said. “That’s where recovery begins. Treatment does work and people recover.” Evidence of that is seen with the county’s new Addiction Response Collaboration program through Dobson’s office. Since its inception about four months ago, the program has worked with 35 opiate addicts in Wood County. Of those, seven people have been sober for three…