While the group has been working to reduce substance abuse in the community since 2014, this plan aims to address opiate overdoses and opiate abuse. Part of the plan calls for early notification of agencies and community members of an opiate overdose outbreak. An overdose outbreak is when emergency rooms see a higher than normal number of overdose patients based on historic reports.
“When there is a flood of overdoses at one time, it can stress the emergency response system. We want to work together to respond to the needs of the community, as well as reduce the risk of more overdoses,” said Elaine Barman, health educator for Huron County Public Health.
As part of the plan, emergency rooms throughout the county will report overdoses into their electronic database within four hours, and begin tracking the number of overdose patients admitted. If the number admitted in a 24 hours period surpasses the “normal” amount the emergency room will notify Huron County Public Health. Huron County Public Health will then send out an alert to any responding agency that has signed up to be notified; alerting them that an overdose outbreak is occurring, how many overdoses were admitted and which emergency room has exceeded their threshold.
The purpose of the alerts is to give other parts of the county an early warning that they may too see an increase in overdoses in their communities. Notified agencies would potentially have more time to prepare for emergency response.
In addition to the agencies being notified, the public also has an opportunity to sign up for notification of an overdose alert. The alerts are a harm reduction strategy, to reduce the likely-hood of more overdoses.
“By notifying the public, this gives our community members the chance to be part of the emergency response. If they have a loved one who has a history with opiate use, they can do what they can to help prevent an overdose,” Barman said.
Alerts to the public will notify that an overdose outbreak has occurred in Huron County, who is at the most risk for overdosing, and available treatment options in the county. The alert will also link to the online Huron County Resource Tool, at www.huroncohealth.com/huroncoresources, as well as 2-1-1 for additional resources.
The Everbridge alerting system is the same system used by Huron County EMA to send weather and other emergency alerts. The public can sign up for alerts by either visiting Huron County EMA’s website at www.huroncountyema.org or visiting Huron County Public Health’s home page at www.huroncohealth.com. If an individual already has signed up for Huron County Alerts, but would like to receive the new opiate alert, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community members may also be alerted to overdose outbreaks by liking and following Huron County Public Health’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/huroncohealth, where alerts will be posted.
The Huron County Opiate Response Plan is available on Huron County Public Health’s website in draft form. Any comments or suggestions can be made to Huron County Public Health in the “Contact us” section of the webpage.