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Stepping up the opioid battle in Pueblo with help from the fire department

Pueblo Fire Focuses Response Unit
Posted at 10:01 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 00:06:18-04

PUEBLO — There is a new one on one, face to face approach to battling opioid addiction in Pueblo. First responders are teaming with addiction specialists to encourage people who have overdosed to get help beating their addiction.

It happens with a follow-up visit after firefighters/paramedics respond to an opioid overdose and have to use the counter drug naloxone. "We basically go on every single overdose in town, one way or another," said Pueblo Fire Chief, Barb Huber.

A team with Pueblo Fire join with an addiction recovery specialist to go back to check-up on the person who overdosed. “We try to see them within 72 hours of that overdose,” Coby Gogarty with the addiction recovery center, Front Range Medical, “We say you’re not in trouble, but something’s going on, can we help?’

Along with a status check, information is offered on how and where to get help with addiction recovery. The public perception of firefighters makes the conversation easier. "We are trusted people. They do let us in the front door to have a conversation with them,” said Chief Huber, “That's why it's important for us to capitalize on that trust and talk about where we can help them."

There are plenty of reject the offer saying they are not ready. In the first few months of the program there are also potential successes. Some have gone to suggested recovery programs. Several, are in the process of changing their lives.

The new program is funded by a grant through public health. It was formed through a collaboration with Pueblo Public Health, multiple medical agencies, local government leaders, law enforcement, and the fire department.