Miami County’s coroner reports seeing a decrease in heroin deaths but an increase in fentanyl and carfentanil deaths.

The county had recorded 24 overdose deaths for the year, Dr. William Ginn said as the first six months of 2017 was coming to an end last week. That compares with 20 overdose deaths in county for the full year 2016.

Fentanyl was involved in 11 of this year’s overdose deaths. Others involved heroin (one), carfentanil (six), other fentanyl compounds (seven), cocaine (eight), alcohol (two), other narcotics (two) and other drugs (four). “The vast majority of toxicology screens show multiple drugs (this accounts for the number being greater than the total OD deaths),” Ginn said via email. “This, I think, is what the surrounding counties are seeing, too.”

As part of the response to the opioid epidemic, Miami County Public Health is offering an opioid education program that includes distribution of a free Narcan kit to participants.

Jordan Phillips, the health department injury prevention coordinator, said the training takes about 45 minutes and includes information on risk factors for opioid overdose, signs and symptoms of overdose and how to respond.

A 15-minute video is shown, with a copy given to participants along with the kits. The kits include face shields for rescue breathing, instructions/quick reference guides and two containers of Narcan of 4 mg each.

Almost 80 kits had been distributed as of June 27.

The education course is held each Tuesday at noon at Miami County Public Health’s offices in the Hobart Center for County Government on Water Street in Troy.

If a kit is used, the person who obtained it can get a refill at the health department, where they will be asked to fill out a refill form, said Dennis Propes, county health commissioner. People who obtain a kit are asked to report its use, but are not required to do, he said.

The department received a $17,000 grant for the education program and other efforts from the Ohio Department of Health for Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naxolone). Naxolone also is known as Narcan.

Phillips said the attendance at the health department classes has been low with more response at events such as meetings of Family of Addicts. Information on the program has been distributed via the media and by the Quick Response Team (QRT) in Troy that visits those who have overdosed recently.

More information on the program is available by calling the health department at 573-3500 and asking for Phillips.

The health department also is a member of the Miami County Heroin Coalition formed 18 months ago by law enforcement, treatment agencies, the faith-based community and others. Propes recently assumed the role as the coalition facilitator.

He said he is pleased with the amount of cooperation that has taken place between organizations/jurisdictions, who are avoiding the territorial issues he’s hearing from other counties and agencies.

“As a community, we are working very well together,” he said.

The Troy QRT was formed in summer 2016 and began its first visits with those who had overdosed in October. The team talks with the individual about treatment options available that can begin immediately.

The team has made 91 initial visits as of late June and more than 200 visits including returns, said Troy Fire Chief Matt Simmons.

He and Thom Grimm, executive director of the Miami County Recovery Council (MCRC), said although many challenges lie ahead, they are optimistic by what they have seen in response during the past year.

The QRT includes a representative of the Troy police and fire departments along with the recovery council. Support from the faith based community also is available.

“Hopefully this (the overdose) was a wakeup call … That happens one time out of 10. What makes this program beneficial is they are planting seeds,” Grim said. “They try to get them the kind of help it will take. It is difficult for people (addicted) to be successful. It takes multiple attempts and multiple interventions.”

A response team also is being introduced in Piqua. Although it has been working behind the scenes, the program is being made public this month, said Piqua Police Chief Bruce Jamison.

He described the program as a hybrid of the QRT concept and others.

It will be a Protect Recovery program that have a HEART (Heroin Education and Addiction Response Team) that will respond to talk with heroin addicts about recovery options after incidents  overdoses and others. A police officer will be involved along with the resource expert from the MCRC.

“The part I’m excited about, that is unique to HEART, is the inclusion of recovering addicts on the response team. I think they will be able to offer some hope and potential to follow-up beyond what can be offered by the professional services,” Jamison said. Also involved with the team will be a faith-based component and the Piqua Fire Department, he said.

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