More than 150 people seeking help with their heroin and opioid addiction have walked through fire station doors since the start of the Safe Stations program on April 20th of this year.
“The utilization of the Safe Stations program has been greater than expected when we developed the program,” said County Fire Chief Allan C. Graves. “It speaks volumes to the magnitude of the problem and the trust that the residents have in their firefighters to walk into a fire station and ask for help with their addiction,” he continued.
The Safe Stations program was created in response to the growing heroin/opioid addiction epidemic in Anne Arundel County. Under the program, every Anne Arundel County and Annapolis City fire and police station is designated as a safe environment for county residents looking for assistance to start their path to recovery from heroin/opioid addiction. The Safe Stations program is a partnership of the Anne Arundel County and Annapolis City Fire and Police Departments, the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency, Inc. Crisis Response System, the State’s Attorney’s Office and the County Health Department.
The program was announced on April 20th at the Brooklyn Fire Station, with the first person seeking help walking into the station 50 minutes later. The program has averaged nearly one case per day during the first three months and has increased to nearly two cases per day in August. Residents seeking help have utilized fire stations in all parts of the county and Annapolis City.
Data analysis completed by the Crisis Response System through the end of July point not only to the high usage of the program but of early success. Out of 87 clients served by Crisis Response, 41 had completed their first phase of treatment and 9 were still in treatment, a success rate of 57%.
“People suffering from addiction are coming when they are ready, not when everyone else tells them they need it,” said Jen Corbin, Director of the Anne Arundel Crisis Response System. “The reason we are seeing success is because of having Safe Stations 24 hours a day. Readiness for change doesn’t just happen during business hours,” she said.
At any time of day or night, an Anne Arundel County resident who is the victim of a heroin/opioid addiction and decides or gathers up the courage to ask for help can go to any Anne Arundel County or Annapolis City Fire Station and speak to the personnel on duty. In close partnership with the the Crisis Response Team, individuals seeking help are assisted in obtaining the necessary detoxification resources.