Multiple local agencies are collaborating to provide information to the community about drug education and awareness this weekend.
The Kettering Health Network is partnering with the Champaign County Fire and EMS Association and Champaign County Opiate Task Force to present Operation Street Smart, an educational presentation aimed at informing the public about drug use in Champaign County and the rest of the country.
The free event will be held 8 a.m.-noon Saturday at the Champaign County Community Center auditorium, 1512 S. U.S. Route 68. Breakfast will be provided.
Lindsay Sanders is an EMS coordinator for Kettering Health Network and a Champaign County resident.
Sanders said the federally funded program originated as a collaboration between the D.A.R.E. program and the special investigations unit of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
The presentation now travels across the country with the goal of providing current information about drug trends, terminology, paraphernalia and the effect they have on the community.
Sanders noted the focus of the presentation will not be solely on one drug or narcotic as drug use is cyclical.
“When we watch trends … although heroin and prescription drugs are really taking a huge rise as far usage and overdoses, you’ll see other drugs increase or decrease in use,” Sanders said. “When there’s been a bad batch of heroin in town usually what that means is it’s been laced with fentanyl…then you’ll see people actually become afraid and so they’ll go back to using (other drugs). We’ll see a drop in one but then a spike in another so we really like to watch trends and talk about all of the drugs.”
In addition to the presentations, Sanders said information about local resources for prevention treatment and recovery will be available.
Brad Yost, president of the Champaign County Fire and EMS Association, said Saturday’s presentation is a great training opportunity not just for first responders, but also for citizens to be aware of drug use.
“There is a drug problem in this county,” Yost said. “Some people think it’s just in big cities like Dayton and Columbus – we do have a problem here in this county as well.”
Yost also serves as a lieutenant with the JSP fire district. He said educating citizens about what to look for with drug use can help them know when to contact law enforcement or seek medical help.
Yost acknowledged other local agencies such as the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and Urbana Police Division for their involvement with Saturday’s event.
The Champaign County Opiate Task Force was formed in April 2015 comprising of probation department officials, medical officials, education officials, government officials and representatives from the local business community to search for treatment solutions and preventative education opportunities to combat the county’s opiate dependency problem.
Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge Nick Selvaggio, a member of the task force, said the first goal for the task force took was bringing community partners together to establish a protocol for immediate treatment in the form of medication assisted treatment programming such as the use of Vivitrol. According to a Daily Citizen article from last August, Vivitrol is a prescription, injectable medication that blocks the pleasure centers of the brain from responding to opiates or alcohol.
“In order to make this work, we need Job and Family Services for the medicaid eligibility funding, we need the probation department, we need the West Central residential community, we need the jail and we need the counseling centers, Consolidated Care and Community Mercy REACH all in this discussion,” Selvaggio said. “The discussion revolves around how to administer, when to administer, who’s eligible for administration and how do we fund it.”
The task force’s second goal is a long-term solution of preventive education measures.
Selvaggio said Sanders’ work to bring the presentation to the county represents how the task force has attracted interested people to bring forth their own solutions and strategies.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.