by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor

As a result of two grants, Huntington now has a Quick Response Team (QRT) following up on victims who overdose, encouraging them to enter treatment programs. 

Connie Priddy, compliance officer  for Cabell County EMS,  reported to Huntington City Council Monday Feb. 12 that the program which started Dec. 4 has achieved about 35-40% of drug abusers contacted agreeing to enter some type of rehabilitation program. 

However, the statistic does not represent a percentage of those treated by EMS for Overdosing. As Priddy explained to clarify a question by Alex Vence, council vice chairman, the victim's address is often not current. When administering Narcan to revive a user, a residential  address may come from address provided, address where the OD occurred or a  driver's license.

For instance, in January 2018, there were 113 overdose calls to Cabell County EMS, 71 were added to our data base, 35 contacted, and 14 entered treatment, Priddy explained.

"I run a list of clients that OD'ed in the last 24 hours and send the QRT to the listed address to provide treatment information," she said. 

The QRT is deployed 40 hours per week and is comprised of a Huntington Police officer; a paramedic with Cabell County EMS; and a mental health provider from Recovery Point of Huntington, Prestera Center or the Huntington Comprehensive Treatment Center.

 On each visit, the team provides information such as treatment options, pamphlets and phone numbers with anyone they encounter.

Often the team receives a positive reception like "are you here for us" or "are you taking him for treatment."

Since the program started in December 33 individuals have entered treatment of 87 clients contacted. 

The time frame from decision to seek treatment to checking in a rehab facility varies based on where the patient "wants to go" (i.e. in town or out of town). The quickest time for a person entering a treatment facility was one hour.

Councilwoman Carol Polan asked, "do (clients) need a holding zone" where they can be taken until a facility bed is available. 

Members of the QRT responded emphatically "yes."

The QRT effort is funded by two federal grants received by the city of Huntington — a three-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and a three-year, $1.05 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.