The City of Haverhill saw two overdoses per day in February, Trinity EMS paramedic Kirk Brigham confirmed this week.
However, the startling statistic in a city of 62,000 isn’t considered surprising.
“That’s not a high, it’s not a low: It’s about average,” Brigham said at this week’s City Council meeting, adding that February’s overdoses were primarily among men with an average age of 36.
Brigham told councilors he hopes to pilot a program in Haverhill similar to the one offered in Manchester, N.H. in which all fire stations are designated “safe zones” for those seeking treatment.
“Someone with a substance abuse disorder can walk in off the street and be treated like a human being,” Brigham said. “They can be evaluated by a paramedic, get referrals for services and get a ride in an ambulance to a hospital. It’s something we could definitely do here for probably no money.”
In the meantime, outreach efforts across the city are carried out social worker Katie Ryan.
Ryan conducts weekly ride-alongs with police officers Adam Durkee and Eric MacKinnon to follow up on each of Haverhill’s overdose cases. When Ryan meets with patients, she offers services including residential treatment and referrals to methadone clinics.
According to Ryan, Haverhill has seen five drug fatalities since the beginning of this year. Several patients have enrolled in further treatment—a statistic that pleases Ryan.
“We’ve had 19 enrollments in some sort of treatment, which is 40 percent. It’s actually a pretty good number,” Ryan said. “What we’re doing is working.”