“Safe Stations” Program Hits Maryland County

As health and law enforcement officials in Maryland prepare to battle a projected new wave of opioid-related overdoses in their state, representatives from Anne Arundel County are offering direct aid to individuals seeking to break the grip of addiction.

In late March, County Executive Steve Schuh announced the launch of the “Safe Stations” program, which designated fire and police stations in Anne Arundel County and its county seat, the city of Annapolis, as a safe location for individuals to make the first steps in recovering from their heroin and opioid addictions.

The initiative links together Anne Arundel County and Annapolis firefighters, paramedics and police with the county’s Crisis Response Team to provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week assistance to any county or city resident who enters a fire or police station seeking help.

Upon arrival and request for assistance, firefighters and paramedics will perform a medical assessment to determine if the individual needs immediate medical attention. If there is cause for concern, emergency medical services will transport the individual to a local hospital or medical facility, while the Crisis Response Team (CRT) will alert hospital staff that a Safe Station is en route to their facility and will need immediate attention.

If there is no need for medical attention, the CRT will be notified that there is an active Safe Station case and then determine which option is best for the individual, including access to the county’s detoxification services. Any needles or other drug paraphernalia, as well as drugs or other illegal substances, will be collected and/or disposed without threat of arrest.

Individuals with active warrants or notices for failing to appear in court will not be barred from assistance; however, as Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes

Adams stated, “[People] need to know they can safely walk into [any] station and understand we will move them along the path to resolve those consequences, but our priority is to get them into treatment.”

The latest data for drug overdose deaths in Maryland shows more than 1,400 fatalities occurring between January and September 2016, which surpasses the total number of overdose deaths for 2015 in its entirety.