Opioid Response Team
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the opioid epidemic has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic. Opioid-related deaths have risen since 2020 in the state of South Carolina. Additionally, the City of Greenville responds to more than 100 opioid overdose-related calls each year — around one overdose every three days.
The City of Greenville, along with many other political subdivisions throughout the state, recently participated in opioid-related litigation settlements led by South Carolina’s Attorney General. To access a portion of its available settlement allocation, the City of Greenville was required to submit a proposal for an approved opioid remediation strategy to the South Carolina Opioid Recovery Fund Board. The City’s proposal to launch a new Opioid Response Team under the direction of its Fire Department was approved in March 2023. Over the next three years, the City plans to use its allocation to support this team which will use a combination of preventative outreach initiatives, education and emergency response to combat the opioid epidemic in Greenville
New Task Force to Combat Opioid Epidemic
In 2023, City Council approved the allocation of $525,437 for Fiscal Year 23/24 to create an Opioid Response Team consisting of three new positions:
- Opioid Response Coordinator
- Opioid Program Specialist
- Data Analyst
The Opioid Response Team, under the direction of the Greenville City Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief of Medical, will be tasked with:
- providing emergency response to Greenville residents who overdose on opioids;
- conducting post overdose follow-up visits to establish a support system to ensure the individual receives help and is progressing to recovery; and
- collecting, storing and analyzing data related to the opioid epidemic in Greenville, and partnering with agencies to understand how to best apply the data to field operations.
The team’s impact will go beyond emergency response. The Opioid Response Team will also deploy preventative outreach, education and recognition programs, as well as partner with local community agencies.
Breaking the Cycle of Addiction
Addiction is a complex issue that can negatively affect every facet of a person’s life. South Carolina is seeing increased cases of fentanyl-related deaths, which reflects national trends. When misused, fentanyl is a highly dangerous and addictive drug that is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.
The Opioid Response Team plans to partner with local schools and organizations to deliver educational programs designed to discourage, prevent and identify drug abuse. When the Team responds to a call, it establishes a long-term relationship with the individual and employ a “warm hand-off strategy” — defined as the coordination or transition of care that directly involves the patient, so they are engaged in their own plan of care.