COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Colerain Township officials reported a seven-year low in opioid overdose responses, and they credit part of their success to the creation of their Quick Response Team.
Emergency personnel responded to 139 overdoses in 2019, a 42% drop since their high point in 2017 of 238 overdose calls, and this reduction is thanks to the QRT, according to officials.
The QRT was created in July 2015, and the team consists of a firefighter/paramedic, a police officer and an addiction counselor.
"I didn't know that I was in job training when I was in active addiction," said Hannah Dawes, clinical triage specialist and addiction services council. "I'm afforded the opportunity to go into the justice center and leave today. When before, I would go in and I would stay."
The QRT initially responds to an overdose run, but then the team members make a follow-up visit to the overdose patient. Officials say these follow-up visits have contributed to 259 patients seeking addiction treatment.
Dawes spends three days a week knocking on doors to save lives. She said she does it because her life was saved numerous times.
"I've been incarcerated multiple times, I've been in over 13 treatment programs, I've overdosed at least 4 times and revived with Narcan," said Dawes.
She said the reason she's been clean for two years now is because of people who supported her. Now she's that support for hundreds of people throughout Hamilton County.
A new University of Cincinnati study released Tuesday shows the Hamilton County QRT sees success 54 percent of the time they are able to get in touch with a person they're trying to help. That number drops to 27 percent if they cannot reach their client.
"It ebbs and flows -- because the overdose rates ebb and flow," said Denise Driehaus, Hamilton County commissioner. "Right now we feel that what we have is adequate, but if the numbers go up exponentially, we'd need more."
Thanks to the decrease in overdoses, the township said the reduction causes a decrease in crime and trauma as well as an increase in community members willing to engage in fighting addiction.
"The numbers lowered drastically in Colerain Township," said Dawes. "Hamilton County is a little bit different, because it's such a vast area and a large region to connect."
Officials said they plan on the QRT to continue making these follow-up visits with the hope of lowering overdose responses even further.