Published: Tuesday, 02 May 2017 15:23
By Dylan McCament, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON - The fire department is rising to the challenge of an increase of opioid overdose calls in 2017, according to MVFD Chief Chad Christopher.
Christopher said there has been a notable increase in the number of times the department has had to use the drug Narcan to combat such overdoses: 68 times in 2017, compared to 82 times for all of 2016. The drug was used 86 times in 2015.
"I think it's important to take into consideration that, in the past, we could use a lower dose of 2 milligrams," Christopher said. "Nowadays, a bad batch [of illegal drugs] comes into the county, and it might take 4 to 6 milligrams to get a response."
Christopher said the department purchases Narcan through an exchange program with KCH: a 2 milligram dose of the drug costs $33. People to whom Narcan is administered are billed if they have insurance, he said, and, in this way, some of the cost can be recovered. The chief added that department officials are currently seeking to enter into a state reimbursement program through which the department could be compensated $6 per 2 mg vial.
"It's no different from when we have to out and give Dextrose for a diabetic call," he said. "Or all the the drugs that we use for someone having a cardiac incident. All of those drugs have a cost."
He said, at this point, the increase in opioid-related overdose calls are not putting a strain on the department, adding that, if this trend continues, eventually it will. Christopher said overdose calls often require extra manpower.
"With a lot of these people, when they are unconscious, you have to get them removed from the home, which is not an easy task. You have get all the vital signs you have to get an I.V. established. On some of them you have to control the airway and then administer the drug," Christopher said. "Sometimes, when they wake up, they're not that happy with us. Sometimes they are combative."
He said there are times that, despite all the best efforts, EMTs are not able to revive a person who is overdosing, even with Narcan. The chief added that EMTs have had to administer Narcan to the same individual more than once.
"When it is one of the times when we are able to revive them, hopefully they can seek help and change their life around," Christopher said.
"There is that word out there on the street, 'if these people are overdosing, why are we saving them?' " the chief said. "We treat these calls as they come in. That's not my job to decide when I'm gonna give somebody Narcan or not. In our minds, it's still a human being.
Christopher said that officials from the department, local law enforcement agencies, Knox Community, the Knox County Health Department and Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio are all working together to develop a plan to combat the problem of opioid addiction in the local community. He added that the plan would include reaching out to individuals who have been revived with Narcan as soon as they are discharged from the hospital and providing avenues for help and recovery.
"I think we have good plans that will come out in the future," Christopher said.
He added that he feels that a lot of good information about the local drug problem will be presented at the upcoming, 4-part "Town Hall: Drugs and our Community" which will begin on May 9 at Twin Oak Elementary in Mount Vernon. Local Law enforcement, court officials and addiction specialists will be among those who will give their perspective on the opioid epidemic.
"With these town hall meetings, we want the public's support," Christopher said. "We want to raise public awareness. We need their help to combat this problem."
Published: Sunday, 30 April 2017 03:24
By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON — Local officials gathered Thursday to review progress made on the county's plan to reduce flooding in the area. Representatives from law enforcement, local municipalities, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Knox Community Hospital, Mount Vernon City Schools and nonprofit organizations attended.
Mark Maxwell, county Emergency Management Agency director, said there are four aspects of emergency management: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. “Often we are so focused on preparedness and response that we don't get to the recovery and mitigation as often as we should,” he said.
Mitigation (reducing the severity of or preventing) of flooding is important. “For every $1 we spend in mitigation, we save $4 in repair and recovery,” said Sandy Hovest of Resource Solutions, who facilitated the review. “We need to look at mitigation as our wellness check.”
Hovest also said that one in four small businesses close and never reopen after disaster damages.
Resource Solutions wrote the county's flood mitigation strategy in 2014. Federal guidelines require an annual review of the plan. Participants broke into work groups to review goals, assess progress and note any strategies that need to be added or removed.
One goal is to update flood maps and adopt, appeal or modify FEMA revisions. Brian Ball, engineer for the City of Mount Vernon, noted that FEMA is still working from a 1977 flood plain model. An example of changes from the model is that the channel of Dry Creek is probably 10 foot deeper than in 1977 and can handle more flood waters. Because of these kinds of changes, homes in the city's west end have to opt out individually. It would be better, Ball said, for FEMA to update its model rather than putting the burden on homeowners.
Another goal is to raise sections of roads and bridges that flood on a regular basis. Ball said this is being planned for the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge replacement slated for 2019. Improvements to Blackberry Alley, the city's tree removal program, an increase in the city's utility rates to improve water and sewer infrastructure, examining natural dams to alleviate problems downstream and underground power and utility lines in new neighborhoods are other efforts that comply with the mitigation plan.
Centerburg Mayor Dave Beck said the goals set for the village are at different levels of being completed. “You're never really comfortable; you're always afraid you'll forget something,” he said. “You have to be vigilant and keep on top of situations.”
Beck said an ongoing goal is working with property owners to keep brush and other debris from flowing downstream. Retention ponds to hold runoff waters are a part of the village's subdivision regulations, resident communication is done through the county's alert system and the village works with the Red Cross to identify shelter locations and comfort stations during disasters.
One goal that Beck said needs improved on is identifying and communicating with special populations within the village regarding disasters, warnings and response. “We probably need to do this little more. We have a lot of convalescent homes in the community,” he said.
From the county's perspective, Commissioner Thom Collier said “A lot of things we have done or we are in the process of doing, and we've made great advancements since this plan was created.” He noted that relationships with groups such as the Army Corps of Engineers, ODNR, townships and Knox Soil and Water District enable the county to complete a lot of the goals listed in the plan.
Hovest said that future FEMA requirements for mitigation plans include more specific weather, flooding and natural hazard definitions and descriptions, plans for maintaining a quality water supply, and a more formal community collaboration hierarchy chart rather than informal relationships such as Knox County has.
“You are doing more than you think,” she told the group. “You are making mitigation part of your normal business. The solutions you are coming up with are not boiler plate; they are creative.”