LIMA — The Board of Allen County Commissioners delivered a proclamation Thursday morning recognizing next week as ‘Emergency Responders Appreciation Week’ across Allen County. The proclamation was delivered in partnership with the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board (MHRSB) of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties.
The focus of the week will recognize law enforcement, first responders, firefighters and medical staff for their work in helping fight the opioid epidemic.
Before the pandemic, Ohio was making steady improvements in its effort to curb drug-related overdoses and deaths, but the last year has seen those numbers on the rise again. Allen County Sheriff Matthew Treglia said that the county’s drug units have been working ‘double overtime’ to handle overdose calls.
“I would have no idea the exact amount of hours, but it’s very common. It’s more common than not to have overdoses during the week. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night they’re coming,” he said. “We’re not getting anything extra to work these hours, other than the fact that we know we’ve got to do it to make our community safer and to make everybody healthier in this community.”
MHRSB CEO Tammie Colon said that the pandemic has been a major factor in the area’s regression on combating the issue, but other factors have also come into play.
“People isolated, they buckled down in their home, the agencies weren’t as available and we are now in a professional shortage across the country in behavior healthcare,” she said. “But we believe that we know how to do this, we have to just reorient ourselves now that we’re all back in the community, we’re able to see people face-to-face. There should be reduced barriers for individuals to get better.”
The opioid epidemic is not a new problem for the state of Ohio, something that is well known by Ohio’s politicians looking to solve the problem. Senate candidate J.D. Vance spoke on the issue during his visit to Lima on Thursday, saying that the solution starts with protecting Ohio’s children.
“Once the kids and grandkids start to get involved in opioids, that’s when you have something that completely destroys communities,” Vance said. “We’ve got to help the people who are raising those kids, the people who are supporting those kids and we’ve got to ensure that the kids themselves are getting as much help as they can to overcome the real obstacles in their life that came from addiction.”
According to the most recent data from the CDC, Ohio ranks third in the country in drug overdose deaths per 100,000 at 38.3 and ranks fourth in the nation in total deaths, with 4,251 across the state in 2018.
Reach Trevor Hubert at 567-242-0398