Greenville Co. EMS and local non-profit develop new way to fight opioid epidemic

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GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA)–Greenville County EMS is taking a new approach to fighting opioid addiction through a partnership with a local non-profit.

The new program rolled out just last week and is the first of its kind in the entire state. EMS crews in Greenville County who are called to administer Narcan will now also be handing out packets filled with information on how to get help for addiction.

Jennifer Woodard knows first hand the toll addiction can take on a family.

“No parent should watch their child slowly kill themselves,” she said.

Her daughter Reghan died in 2017 after a long battle with addiction. She says looking for help for Reghan was overwhelming.

“I wish somebody had handed me on of these packets. I feel like maybe I would have been better armed against what we faced,” said Woodard

Martine Helou is the executive director for the Palmetto Foundation for Prevention and Recovery.

“It’s a simple idea but it’s so valuable,” said Helou. “We wanted to do what we can to help them which means connecting them with services.”

She’s been a driving force behind the packets in partnership with Greenville County EMS.

“We want them to be able to give resource at that critical moment,” said Helou.

Here’s how it works. When emergency services administers Narcan to someone they can refuse transport to the hospital as long as they are awake an alert. In that case, they get handed a packet full of options.

“Then they’re able to look at those and decide which community based resource they want to seek if they wanted to,” said Phil Head, director of clinical services.

Head says last year Greenville County administered Narcan nearly 800 times and opioid related fatalities have increased by 80-percent. He has faith in the packets.

“If it saves one life it’s definitely worth it,” said Head.

Woodard agrees and says her advocacy is a way to keep her daughter’s memory alive.

“I know Reghan would want to save people.”

She also encourages families to speak out and seek help for loved ones with addiction.

“Please don’t be embarrassed or try to hide if your child or family member has a problem. Because the silence isn’t going to save them,” said Woodard.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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