Local leaders attend AG’s drug symposium

Educators and LEO draw ideas from others impacted by drug abuse

By Melanie Yingst - myingst@civitasmedia.com

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County fielded 102 drug overdoses last month, the most ever in a single month since the Miami County Public Health (MCPH) began tracking overdoses in 2014.

In comparison, January 2014 recorded 15 drug overdoses. And the number is climbing.

Two weeks into February, 34 cases of overdoses have been reported as of Feb. 10 by MCPH. These cases are not counting the death of a 64 year-old Troy man on Saturday and four overdoses in Troy over the weekend. The numbers also do not include the overdose of a 38 year-old male in the 2400 block of Dayton-Brandt Road, Elizabeth Township around 7 a.m. or the 31 year-old female in the 1500 block of Troy-Sidney Road, Troy, around 11 a.m. reported by the Miami County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday morning alone.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office hosted its second annual symposium on fighting the drug epidemic in Ohio on Tuesday. More than 1,200 members of law enforcement, educators, social services and other community organizations from 80 of 88 counties and eight states attended the sessions held at Fellowship Baptist Church in eastern Columbus.

Entitled “Ideas in Motion,” the workshop featured speakers from school superintendents, drug free organizations, school resource officers, clergy and law enforcement to share ideas on how they are battling the opiate and drug epidemic in their own communities.

DeWine said his goal for the symposium was for community leaders and organizations to be able to take back at least one idea to their community to help combat the drug epidemic in Ohio.

“The way we can address this epidemic is at the grassroots level,” said DeWine during his opening address Tuesday. “There’s good news and bad news. Bad news (is) I don’t think we have reached bottom yet…but there is good news and hope. There’s a lot of good people doing a lot of great things in this state today.”

DeWine said 8 Ohioans died a day of accidental overdoses in 2015 — one every three hours — and the numbers are increasing.

Mount Carmel Health medical personnel held a special session for pastors and clergy on how to administer Narcan to victims they may minister in their community.

The symposium also presented experts on how to implement a wide variety of drug prevention tools and education for their community’s youth and D.A.R.E. officers. Last week, DeWine presented the joint study on K-12 drug prevention education.

Troy Police Department Capt. Joe Long and Capt. Shawn McKinney and Troy Fire Department Chief Matthew Simmons attended the conference.

“Other communities are having the same issues we are having, and we’re seeing how they are trying to solve similar issues in their community,” Long said. “Each and everyone of us will walk back with some sort of idea to bring back to our community.”

“My hope was to get some ideas to bring back to Troy to help deal with the problems we have,” McKinney said.

McKinney added that he believed some of DeWine’s points were debatable, especially in terms of how addicts are becoming hooked on opiates.

Simmons shared he’ll be speaking at the University of Cincinnati later this spring to Ohio City Managers about the Quick Response Team (QRT), which was established last summer and began its mission last October. Simmons said he’ll have final numbers of the number of overdose victims the QRT visited by the end of the week. The QRT consists of a fire department member, a clergy or addiction specialist and police officer.

“With our program, I think our guys are saying, ‘Hey, our administration and city leaders are trying to do something innovative but also we’ve piloted a program not many other cities have,’” Simmons said. Simmons said paramedics will note victims who seem to be open to help from the QRT to help them find help for their additions.

Other communities have implemented its own Quick Response Team much like the city of Troy started last summer.

“We are doing stuff in our city for this, and I’m here to see what the rest of the state is looking at and see what we can do to improve or see what other people doing,” Simmons said Tuesday. “Throughout the state we have been contacted by several fire departments to see what model we are using.”

Both Simmons and McKinney said they were impressed with the idea of the Drug Free student-led initiative shared by Chris Scott, chairman of the Ross County Drug Free Clubs of American, during the drug prevention education in school and communities session.

The program is based on students who take drug free pledges, backed by drug testing donated by the local hospital. The club kicked off last fall at the local county fair. The students join the club after signing the pledge and will act as peer advocates to encourage other students to be drug-free. Scott said the group is a low budget program with T-shirts and donated items like homework and sport passes from schools and items from local businesses who donated to support for the drug-free club’s activities.

The Sidney Police Department also was featured in a video about how law enforcement deals with trauma. Officer Mike McRill’s shared his personal story of his post-traumatic stress experience with the audience. The video began the session based on the impact of trauma in the criminal justice system and first responders.

Educators and LEO draw ideas from others impacted by drug abuse

By Melanie Yingst


Reach Melanie Yingst at myingst@civitasmedia.com

Reach Melanie Yingst at myingst@civitasmedia.com