Battling Substance Abuse: West Virginia’s quick response teams help overdose survivors

West Virginia

FAIRMONT, W.Va.- One approach of West Virginia’s Substance Abuse Response Plan was to establish quick response teams (QRT) throughout multiple communities in the state.

A QRT is a team of individuals who go out and help overdose survivors within 24-72 hours after experiencing an overdose. The QRT goes out and assists overdose victims by taking them to the ER, get them into treatment, and advocating for them.

Members of the Marion County QRT.

The Marion County Health Department was awarded a grant to start a Quick Response Team in their community in June of this year. The Marion County QRT consists of three peer recovery coaches, two social workers, and a Nurse.

“A lot of the times, it will get quiet for a while, and then well be like oh man, it’s the calm before the storm,” described Peer Recovery Coach, Anthony Ours. “And were usually 100% correct.”

On average, the Marion County QRT receives about four calls on a weekend. They work with EMS, Fire Department, 911, and local organizations.

Peer Recovery Coach Kate Layne explained how their QRT never gives up on the victims they come in contact with and continue showing up for them, until there ready to go to treatment.

 “We went over to a female’s house and we got her kids clothes. She did not want to go into treatment, but we were there for her,” Layne described. “We bought them food. We were just there for support and to listen to her and just talk and give her some company. And some cases that is what the need. They are not ready to go to treatment yet, but they want to hear about our stories. They want to know there’s hope and we gave that to them.”

Marion County QRT explained they are committed, even in the middle of the pandemic.

“I think looking at the bigger picture, the drug epidemic itself within the community isn’t ever going to go away,” said Peer Recovery Coach Raven Hill. “It’s up to us to show people in active addiction or mental health issues or trying to find recovery, or they’re in recovery that we care, and we’re here to support them and that we’ll do what we can to connect them to resources and treatment through the Quick Response Team.”

Nurse Director Sandy Hassenpflug said their goal with the grant is to see a decrease in overdose rates in their county, and their team is working hard to achieve that goal.

“This completes the picture of what Marion County needs, I think,” said Chair for the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Frank German.

Currently there are 18 to 22 counties in West Virginia with QRTs.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and need help, call (844) 435-7498.

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