Snohomish County creates opioid response group

Edmonds not immune to the dangers of addiction
By Brian Soergel | Dec 01, 2017

Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas has seen the effects of the nationwide opioid crisis, which has not spared Snohomish County.

In September, she and her son volunteered at the Everett Gospel Mission, along with 44th District Rep. John Lovick, where they served dinner.

“The opioid epidemic is countywide,” she said. “It affects all ages, religions, economics, backgrounds, education levels and diverse populations. We have citizens who die from their addictions; this is a disease we must all understand. And, yes, Edmonds has its fair share of those addicted to drugs in the opioid family.”

Fraley-Monillas is doing her part as chairwoman of the Snohomish Health District’s 15-member Board of Health. The district was created in 1959 as an independent special purpose district responsible for public health in Snohomish County. It’s separate from Snohomish County government, although it provides financial support and is a partner in many functions.

One of those partnerships has just been announced: It has joined with Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, the Snohomish County Council and Snohomish County Sheriff on a countywide commitment to reducing the impact of the opioid epidemic in the county.

“The Edmonds Police Department shares the concern of our partners throughout Snohomish County as we all look for ways to best combat the opioid crisis,” said Edmonds Police Sgt. Josh McClure, a department spokesman.

“Edmonds has not been immune to the crisis. We have felt the impacts in not only the number of people we contact who are users, but also in the numbers of those who have been victimized by those looking for a way to support their addiction.

“Crime victims are frustrated, and our officers are continually looking for ways to work with residents and businesses to provide information that can educate them on the crisis and how to best prevent being a victim.”

The driving force of effort is collaboration and coordination, Somers said in a news release. To speed things up, he directed the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management to partially activate the Emergency Coordination Center.

While not a formal declaration of emergency, as typically used during natural disasters, the directive does provide additional staff resources to facilitate better coordination and communication across multiple jurisdictions, government agencies and service providers.

The multiple agencies and governments in Snohomish County involved so far have formed an Opioid Response Multi-agency Coordination (MAC) Group.

“The opioid epidemic is often referred to as a public health crisis, and that’s certainly true,” said Mark Beatty, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. “However, public health alone cannot end the epidemic. It requires each of us working together with a shared purpose.”

The group has seven goals:

• Reduce opioid misuse and abuse;

• Lessen the availability of opioids;

• Reduce criminal activity associated with opioids;

• Use data to detect, monitor, evaluate, and act;

• Reduce collateral damage to the communities;

• Provide information about the response in a timely and coordinated manner; and

• Ensure the availability of resources that efficiently and effectively support response efforts.

There are several focuses within the group: Public Works and Engineering; Firefighting/EMS; Emergency Management; Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing, and Human Services; Logistics Management and Resource Support; Public Health and Medical Services; Public Safety and Security; and External Affairs.

“We’ve learned in law enforcement that we can’t arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said. “We’ve also learned that the only way to make any significant impact is through collaborative partnerships and by addressing the problem at the local level.”

Edmonds has taken numerous steps to combat the opioid crisis, which in addition to prescription pills includes the use of heroin and the synthetic opioid fentanyl, the latter which is especially lethal.

“We have taken steps to train our officers in the use of Narcan, and to date we have five saves in the field,” McClure said. “This does not represent the number of overdoses or drug-related medical issues we have responded to, as many times these situations are dynamic and Fire/EMS may arrive before police.

“In addition, we have partnered with the Lynnwood Police Department to bring a community social worker on board as a resource for not only our patrol officers, but also to those we contact who are looking for a path out of the destructive cycle they are in. “This position is new for both agencies, so there will be a period of time where we learn how to best approach our goals and identify priorities for the position. While we recognize that cities have shared and unique challenges, we are confident that this partnership will be a tremendous tool for both agencies.”

Said Fraley-Monillas: “We must change the system of how and why people misuse and abuse, as well as provide treatment options and reduce the collateral damage. We do not have a single silver bullet for prevention, but we do have many solutions at our disposal.”

For more information on the Opioid Response MAC Group, go to www.snohomishoverdoseprevention.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.