Another 'Quick Response Team' for the Tri-State to fight heroin epidemic

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jun 16, 2017

BURLINGTON, Ky. -- Drug addictions don't begin with overdoses. With luck and live-saving intervention, they don't end with them, either. Police, firefighters and other emergency responders in Greater Cincinnati have grown adept at administering naloxone to reverse the fatal effects of an opioid overdose -- but that's often the end of their interaction with the victim.

Boone County authorities hope to change that. They've assembled a "Quick Response Team" to help provide those victims with support that lasts beyond the moment of their overdose. 

Chris Hamilton, director of Northern Kentucky Services, hopes that the team will help battle the heroin epidemic.

RELATED: Heroin in the Tri-State

"We hope that this is going to help kind of turn the tide," Hamilton said.

The QRT team consists of three key members: a specifically trained sheriff's deputy, an emergency medical services representative and an addiction services counselor.

Each member makes follow-up visits to the homes of those who have overdosed and helps to provide them with resources to fight their addiction.

"It's a complete shift in thinking," Hamilton said. "When they see a policeman and they see a fireman and somebody in plain clothes walking up to their door, their immediate thought isn't 'I'm in trouble,' it's, you know, 'These guys are here to help.'"

The program started Wednesday, and the team has already made four home visits. Two of the people with whom they spoke accepted treatment.

"We will help you in your recovery if you'll accept that help," Tom Scheben, a Boone County Sheriff's Office spokesman, said.

This is not the first "QRT" team in the region. Colerain Township created the first in 2015, and has reported "almost 70% of individuals who are touched by the QRT seek treatment." The township has also seen a 40% reduction in overdoses since implementing the program.

RELATED: QRT: Other Cincinnati-areas communities borrow Colerain's idea