Dearborn police, fire departments tackle opioid overdose epidemic

Photo courtesy of the city of Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. (right) joined with others on March 1 in honoring four Dearborn police officers — Cpl. Steven Vert (second from left), Officer Mohamad Farhat, Sgt. Vincent Belloli, and Officer Michael Hammoud — who saved the lives of people who had overdosed on opioids by administering a medicine called naloxone. The officers were honored during a press conference explaining the success of the city’s initiative to equip all patrol vehicles with the anti-overdose medication, and train officers on its use, through a partnership with the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority and with support from Beaumont Hospital. Joining O’Reilly in honoring the officers are Deputy Fire Chief Joey Thorington (left) and Police Chief Ron Haddad (second from right).

Photo courtesy of the city of Dearborn
Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. (right) joined with others on March 1 in honoring four Dearborn police officers — Cpl. Steven Vert (second from left), Officer Mohamad Farhat, Sgt. Vincent Belloli, and Officer Michael Hammoud — who saved the lives of people who had overdosed on opioids by administering a medicine called naloxone. The officers were honored during a press conference explaining the success of the city’s initiative to equip all patrol vehicles with the anti-overdose medication, and train officers on its use, through a partnership with the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority and with support from Beaumont Hospital. Joining O’Reilly in honoring the officers are Deputy Fire Chief Joey Thorington (left) and Police Chief Ron Haddad (second from right).

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The Police and Fire departments were able to save the lives of five people using naloxone kits due to an opioid overdose over the past six months, Police Chief Ronald Haddad said at a press conference March 1.

During the past year, the Wayne County Mental Health Authority has partnered with additional cities in the county to aid in saving 32 lives from the same cause.

Photo by Zeinab Najm Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. (left) speaks about the city’s opioid overdose initiative and special needs registry as Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad listens during a press conference at the Dearborn Administrative Center March 1.

Photo by Zeinab Najm
Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. (left) speaks about the city’s opioid overdose initiative and special needs registry as Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad listens during a press conference at the Dearborn Administrative Center March 1.

In the first batch of its training, the WCMHA has trained 1,000 people and distributed 2,500 naloxone kits with another 2,000 coming in April.

The increase of opioid drug use has caused the additional training by the WCMHA for schools, police, fire and other community organizations.

“The training and services are life saving,” Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority President and CEO Tom Watkins said. “The drug overdose epidemic doesn’t skip ZIP codes and it is hitting our communities hard.”

During the press conference, held at the Dearborn Administrative Center, Dearborn Fire Battalion Chief and EMS Coordinator Glenn Owens said that in 2016 the department used the kits 50 times from its total 15,000 runs.

“Some cases usually don’t make it to the emergency room so first responders need to be trained and know how to administrator the naloxone kits,” he said.

“I’m proud of the Fire Department and know how helpful the naloxone kits and training have been for our city,” Haddad said.

Pharmacist Ghada Abdallah explained, when an opioid overdose happens it floods the brain’s receptors to forget that they are breathing so the naloxone dose kicks out the opioid and takes place of it to wake the person up.

WCMHA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Carmen McIntyre said 1,745 people in Michigan died of opioid overdoses last year, double the number who died in vehicle crashes.

Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., praised the work of the Police Department and said the city has to be aware and involved on the drug use issues.

“Having partners like the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority and Beaumont Health are essential to treat drug overdose,” O’Reilly said. “We have the tools to get it right and have our first responders be well informed.”

Also during the press conference, Haddad encouraged more residents to apply for the city’s special needs registry. He said 125 people with special needs or disabilities have signed up.

“It gives us the best opportunity to assist residents, because when officers knock on the door, they will know if a person needs extra time to answer,” he said. “Additionally, registering allows officers to take the correct measures in order to help residents.”

To sign up for the special needs registry go to www.cityofdearborn.org and for more information on opioid overdose go to www.dwmha.com.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)