War on Opioids: Safe Stations now open at Providence fire stations
Safe Stations are now open at all Providence fire stations.
"If you have an addiction problem and you know you're ready for help at any time, day or night, you can come to the fire station and ring our doorbell and we will bring you inside, welcome you, take your vital signs,” said Zach Kenyon, who is the acting EMS chief for the City of Providence.
Then, they call a recovery coach.
"We can go in there and offer some hope,” said Michael O’Neill, a coach from Anchor Recovery. “We're living examples of what recovery can be."
The first call to a safe station was in early January.
"He was lethargic, he was shaky," said another coach, Ryan Duxbury, with O’Neill adding, "He said he couldn't do it anymore and he said he was ready."
Duxbury and O’Neill immediately responded.
"Always in teams because we're going to transport the individual out of there," said O’Neill, adding that the patient was brought in to treatment.
The safe station program has been modeled after one in New Hampshire, where in just a year and a half, 5,000 people have walked through fire department doors.
"I think it's very powerful when we teach that recovery is not only possible but here we are," said Deb Dettor, who is the director of Recovery Support Services at Anchor Recovery Community Center in Pawtucket.
Dettor said training more troops on the ground, especially recovery coaches, is crucial.
Following up is also making a difference. The guy who walked into the safe station is just one example.
"He actually came by here,” said Duxbury. “We helped get him a phone plan so that I could remain in contact with him."
"We need more resources so we can do more,” said Tom Coderre, who is Gov. Gina Raimondo's senior advisor on the opioid crisis.
The governor shared similar sentiments.
"I want to go at this with that urgency that I would if it were my own kids," said Raimondo.
That includes getting tougher on dealers.
And there’s something else.
"Making sure naloxone is everywhere regardless if it's someone in your family that's dealing with opioid use disorder,” Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, who is the director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, said, adding that it's easy to get. "Anyone can go and pick up naloxone at the pharmacy,"
NBC 10 producer, Caitlin Grimaldi, went to CVS.
"Can I get an order of naloxone?” she asked.
Copays vary. But on Grimaldi's plan, for the more expensive nasal, which is easier to use, the copay was $43.
Still, it is a small price for a life
"The more the public has access to these medications I think the better," said CVS pharmacist Jeremy Blais, who said more people are coming in and asking for the opioid overdose antidote.
“We want to make sure that there's naloxone in malls, in schools, in movie theaters at home," said Alexander-Scott.
"It's not easy to break addiction,” Raimondo said. “This isn't a matter of saying I'll just try harder. It's a disease."
"This is all-hands-on-deck," said Coderre.