Hamilton County Coalition launches rapid response initiative for recent spike in overdoses

Hamilton County Coalition launches rapid response initiative for recent spike in overdoses

June 12th, 2019 by Staff Report in Breaking News

In the wake of five fatal overdoses in Hamilton County in just more than a day, the Hamilton County Coalition has launched a rapid response initiative to provide training on how to use a medication that treats overdoses.

The yearly total number of overdose calls has exceeded the 150 mark, coalition officials said. "We are planning a series of overdose reversal training and are providing free Narcan (nasal spray) to participants at several locations," Hamilton County Coalition executive director Camilla Bibbs-Lee said.

One location will be the Hamilton County Coalition office, 5721 Marlin Road, Building 6100, Suite 3200, she said. Coalition officials are working to secure temporary training sites in the Hixson, Highway 58, East Ridge and East Brainerd areas.

"We will also make sure the community is aware of the NuStart Program," Bibbs-Lee said. "This program helps people gain access to in-patient treatment and medication assisted treatment — even if they don't have insurance. We will also assist with counseling for victims of the household (children and caregivers). To get in touch with our team, call 423-208-3523."

Anyone who wants to learn more and help save lives should plan to attend one of several training sessions in local communities and receive free Naloxone to treat overdoses, officials said. Additional locations will be announced and listed on www.hccoalition.org or call 423-305-1449 to schedule training.

Confirmed dates for overdose reversal trainings at the Hamilton County Coalition office are:

  • Wednesday — 3-4:30 p.m.

  • Thursday — 3-4:30 p.m.

  • Friday — 10:00 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.

Chattanooga Police Department toxicology reports on the five people who suffered fatal overdoses yesterday are still pending, but through investigation, officers have determined the deaths involved the use of illegal drugs, coalition officials said in the release. Chattanooga police also said the number of overdose deaths in a short period of time is indicative of extremely dangerous drugs being sold and used.

Anyone who suspects that someone in the community is illegally making, selling or dispensing prescription medication like prescription Fentanyl or Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, or other opiates like heroin, Fentanyl or Carfentanyl, should call the police department's hotline at 423-493-2878 or the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office hotline at 423-209-7150 or report suspicious activity anonymously to the Hamilton County Coalition's website.

Coalition officials said NuStart is derived from The U.S. Department of Justice's Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program. The program's focus is to combat the opioid epidemic by implementing a commitment to reduce the opioid abuse and misuse and the number of overdose fatalities. This commitment focuses on systemwide initiatives and innovative approaches to promote substance abuse treatment and recovery support, officials said. This project is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The Hamilton County Coalition is focused upon empowering communities and reducing the risk of alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug misuse and abuse among youth and adults in Chattanooga and the Southeast.  As the regional hub, the coalition provides free services to include environmentally friendly ways of disposing of unwanted mediation, medication lock boxes, opioid overdose reversal training, free naloxone, and assistance with opioid treatment, family counseling and recovery services.

The coalition also provides drug and alcohol prevention presentations to youth, young adults and families.