The Barnstable County District Attorney’s Office last month rolled out a new drug overdose database that it hopes will help get more people into treatment programs.
Police departments in the county are logging on to the new critical incident management system to share information on overdoses in their communities in real time. For example, if a Dennis resident overdoses in Falmouth, the Dennis Police Department will be notified.
“The project is intended to support police departments with documenting overdose incidents and help with transitioning and facilitating treatment that is provided by Gosnold,” said Tara Miltimore, spokesperson for the district attorney’s office. Many Cape Cod police departments have partnered with the treatment facility to conduct home visits offering all recent overdose victims services.
The software was created by Kelley Research Associates in Massachusetts. Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s office collaborated with the Barnstable County Department of Human Services last year to introduce the system for Cape police departments, Ms. Miltimore said.
When an overdose is entered into the system, outreach is prompted and services are offered to the person who has overdosed or that person’s family. When a police department responds to an overdose, it is recorded in the system.
The program is modeled after a similar program that the police departments in Plymouth County are using. A nonuniformed police officer and a recovery counselor will visit the home and offer treatment resources to the overdose victim and/or the victim’s family members.
“This makes a lot of sense and I think it’s a phenomenal program,” Falmouth Police Chief Edward A. Dunne said. “There are a lot of people who overdose in Falmouth but who don’t reside here. Now we can quickly notify that person’s community so they can make any follow-ups they may do.”
For Falmouth police, the database is needed because of the number of sober homes in town.
“So often people leave the home and overdose out in our community. Now there is a system in place that will notify their community and perhaps get that person help,” Falmouth Police Sergeant Michael Simoneau said. He is one of several officers who work with Gosnold and overdose victims.
He said the follow-up occurs within a week of an overdose. Falmouth’s partnership with Gosnold began in 2015. Since then, weekly visits have been made weekly to drug users who almost died. To his knowledge, most of the communities on the Cape have a similar program in place.
“It’s been a success and this will help reach more people, perhaps the ones who have fallen through the cracks,” the sergeant said.
He explained that if a Falmouth resident overdoses in another Cape Cod town or in Plymouth County, that community will enter the incident into the database and request a follow-up. The police department where the person lives and Gosnold recovery manager Lenny Cardoza are both notified.
“It’s another tool in our toolbox to fight overdoses,” he said. On average Falmouth police make four visits per week trying to coax the victim into treatment and/or offer services to the family.
“If this means we need to make more visits, so be it. It is helping. No one turns us away and some people do follow up with treatment,” Mr. Cardoza said.