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Lowell opioid workers hit the streets, saving lives

OPIOIDS/From Page 1
writes, leaving the card for the
Before leaving, Newby hugs
the woman.
If he doesnt call, tell him Ill
be back, Garneau says.
The team then heads over to
South Common.
Checks out the Acre.
And then back to the High-
Their daily mission is to
locate those who have recently
overdosed the individuals
most likely to suffer a fatal one.
Theyre members of the citys Amanda Newby of Trinity EMS makes a round of calls to locate
Community Opioid Outreach an individual, while Kevin Garneau of Lowell police reviews
Program, a collaboration overdose reports.
between the Lowell House addic- of addicts say were doing Gods quarter this year, Trinity EMS
tion treatment program and work. reported 10 overdose deaths.
police, fire and Trinity. Its all about treating our fel- At the same time, there has
Every day, the COOP team low brothers and sisters as wed been an increase in non-fatal
scours the city to find the people overdoses those are up to 176
like to be treated, he added.
who overdosed the night before, in the first quarter of 2017, from
Were doing a good thing here in
and encourages them to enter 155 in 2016.
treatment and connect with Police have been trying to
other resources. Its been a major Total overdoses have been
increasing in the city, but over- explain this trend. Police Super-
success for more than a year, the intendent William Taylor pointed
members emphasized. dose deaths are decreasing this
year. During the first three to COOP as one explanation.
Theyre not aware of whats I cant say enough about the
available to them, Garneau said months of 2017, the number of
fatal overdoses in the city was work they do, Taylor said. They
about individuals suffering from literally save lives.
addiction. We do our best to guide down 60 percent compared to the Members of the Community Opioid Outreach Program (COOP)
same time last year. Im very proud that were attempt to track down those who recently overdosed. From
them, and let them know about part of it, he added. Having a
these resources, and that theres a Twenty-five people fatally left, Amanda Newby of Trinity EMS, Lowell Police Officer Kevin
positive impact on people not re-
support system for them. overdosed in the city during Jan- Garneau of Lowell police and Kevin Jones of the Lowell Fire
Are they saving lives? With- uary, February, and March last Department talk to a family member about getting her loved
All Trinity, police, and fire
out a doubt, they respond year. It was by far the deadliest vehicles are also equipped with one help. See video at SUN PHOTOS / RICK SOBEY
instantly. quarter, accounting for 40 per- Narcan, an overdose-reversing
Were absolutely making a substance abuse education, drug purity and more).
cent of the 62 deaths recorded drug, so first responders are
difference, Jones said. Families information and support. They The card provides organiza-
during 2016. During the first likely also saving more lives, also give a card with their phone tions for treatment, such as the
Taylor said. numbers. Jillian Teves, an out- Massachusetts Bureau of Sub-
The members of COOP start reach specialist from Lowell stance Abuse Hotline, as well as
each day by reviewing police House, talks to them about Low- information on inpatient treat-
reports, looking for overdose cases ell Houses treatment program. ment including at Tewksbury
from the previous day. They then We tell them how there are State Hospital.
start making phone calls and alternatives to get them out of It lists community support,
house visits, attempting to track this rut, Jones said. such as Lowell House and Lowell
down the individuals. The resource guide informs Community Health Center.
It can be very difficult if the them to call 911 if they believe We have to keep hitting
persons phone number is old, if someone is overdosing; it every day, Garneau says, look-
they have an outdated address, explains how to recognize an opi- ing over a lengthy list of reports.
or if theyre homeless. They ate overdose (person will not Thats what we gotta do.
could also live in other communi- wake up, no response to yelling, There will be struggles, there
ties, which makes it tougher for blue lips or fingernails and will be slip-ups, but we gotta get
COOP to follow-up. more); and it tells them overdose these people help.
Once the team makes contact, risk factors (using alone, surviv- Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter
Kevin Garneau, a Lowell police officer, reviews overdose reports. they provide a resource guide for ing a past overdose, change in @rsobeyLSun.