Officials working to combat opioid epidemic in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Efforts are underway in Springfield to request funding to battle the opioid epidemic in the city as Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced new action on Tuesday.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a drug opioid and mental health epidemic,” Sarno explained.
It was a strong message from Sarno as he and other city leaders look to make the fight against opioid overdoses and deaths stronger. Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said more resources are needed.
“I can’t think of a more frustrating feeling inside when an officer gets to a scene and they don’t have the proper equipment, or proper tools, to help save someone’s life,” Clapprood added.
The city is set to receive $7.2 million in state funding through installments through 2038. However, now that there is a new administration, local leaders said the time is now to get the first payment.
Western Mass News took a closer look at the city’s plan. More than $421,000 would be used to expand and advance citywide opioid response initiatives. At least $94,000 would go to the Springfield Police Department for medical bags, automated external defibrillators, and 400 Narcan pouches. The Springfield Fire Department would also get $117,000 to get two full-time TAC units. Another $210,000 would allow the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services to purchase a second mobile medical response vehicle.
“It is going to take us at least two months to have the van outfitted (and) have it ready to go and so the sooner we can start this process, the better it’s going to be for our intervention and prevention strategies, so we need to do this now,” said Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.
City officials are asking the state legislature and the Healey-Driscoll Administration to file the necessary legislation to get the funding out there and support the effort.
“I am hopeful that our legislators will see the urgency of releasing the funding, so that we can move forward with this work. However, I am also grateful that we are going to, as a city, upfront this funding so that we can start the work,” Caulton-Harris explained.
Sarno, Caulton-Harris, and the rest of the administration hope to get the first installment of this funding as soon as possible.
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