They see them every day in homes and in neighborhoods – overdoses. Day after day, they respond to calls and provide critical emergency services to people suffering overdoses or associated illness, transporting patients to hospitals and even providing help for people who ask for it. The Westborough Fire Department is tackling the problem head on by addressing opioid addiction and overdoses before they occur.
In this town of nearly 20,000 people in the heart of Massachusetts, the fire department works in conjunction with organizations like Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center to rethink their approach to managing care for individuals struggling with addiction and look at the issue as a whole. With events like Resource and Drop-In Nights at the station and naloxone demonstrations, firefighters have transitioned from being reactionary to proactive during this public health crisis.
“We want to be a part of the solution and expand our role as we grow our programs for the community,” said Westborough Fire Chief Pat Purcell. “We’re tailoring EMS interactions to mirror our fire model with a core mission to mitigate emergencies before they happen.”
At the department’s Resource Nights, firefighters host recovery organizations like Spectrum to help answer questions for the public, who are free to walk in and learn more. These events are a part of a larger task force of Westborough firefighters and other municipal employees who are looking at all facets of addiction and providing educational resources to the community.
“No matter what discipline we operate in, we want to put people in a position to succeed,” Chief Purcell continued.
Soon to come, the fire department plans to offer educational resources for kids in an effort to reduce future substance use disorders. While this program is still in its infancy, Chief Purcell hopes that he and his department can encourage good decision-making practices, and that starts with educating people when they are young.
The Westborough Fire Department hosts periodic Resource Drop-In Nights and representatives of Spectrum and NERC are pleased to be on hand to answer any questions and offer support. Visit our Facebook page and the Westborough Fire Department’s Facebook Page for upcoming events.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call us today at 1-877-MyRehab today.