Response team provides aid for individuals struggling with substance abuse, overdose

GENESEE COUNTY — In an effort to reduce opioid and non-opiate substance use related overdoses and fatalities in Genesee County, Greater Flint Health Coalition (GFHC) partners have created a new “Quick Response Team” or QRT.

The Genesee County Quick Response Team is a partnership of the Greater Flint Health Coalition, New Paths, Inc., Genesee Health System, and multiple Genesee County first responder agencies including emergency medical service (EMS) providers and local law enforcement.

While the primary focus is to reduce opioid and non-opiate substance use related overdoses and fatalities, the QRT also aims to increase access to treatment for individuals with substance use disorder.

The Genesee County QRT is a referral-based program that connects overdose survivors to Peer Recovery Coaches as well as harm reduction and treatment resources, a comprehensive effort to prevent repeat overdose while encouraging entry into post-overdose treatment.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Genesee County recorded 138 opioid overdose deaths in 2019, ranking third highest in Michigan behind only Wayne County and Macomb County.

“It has no boundaries and shows no discrimination,” said Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson. “The tragedy of opiate abuse and death has touched all of us. That means it takes all of us to crush it! Education, awareness, Naloxone distribution and the Genesee County Quick Response Team are on the cutting edge to do just that. Join me and pour your heart into the fight for life.”

Through Greater Flint Health Coalition partners with the Genesee County Medical Control Authority (GCMCA), QRT Naloxone stickers are being placed on all Naloxone kits distributed locally as part of GCMCA’s new “Leave Behind Naloxone” protocols, which allow first responders to leave additional Naloxone kits behind on the scenes of non-fatal overdoses. Naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, as it can quickly restore normal breathing to a person if their breathing has slowed or stopped because of an opioid overdose.

“The QRT provides an important service to Genesee County residents struggling with addiction,” said Kelly Ainsworth, GFHC Project Manager. “We want to reduce as many barriers as possible for individuals to get connected to treatment and provide peer to peer support to help them successfully adhere to treatment plans, with long-term recovery being the ultimate goal.”

The Genesee County Quick Response Team phone line and text line are available 24/7 for individuals seeking support or access to substance use treatment. Individuals can call 810-624-1177 or text 810-835-4288 for confidential QRT support services. Funding for this project is provided through a grant from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Michigan Opioid Data to Action (MODA) project.

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