Drug abuse in Mason County : Proposed overdose ordinance prompts discussion


MASON — Members of the EMS and drug abuse recovery community spontaneously met with Mason Police Chief Rich Gilkey Thursday afternoon, after learning the Mason Town Council would not be discussing a proposed ordinance that would penalize any drug abuser overdosing in the town.

Mason County EMS Director Dylan Handley, Mason County Day Report Director Kyle McGee, Peer-to-Peer Drug Abuse Recovery Coach Brent Kapp, and Drug Abuse Community Engagement Specialist Jessica Kapp all appeared at the council meeting to learn the outcome of the ordinance. None actually entered the council chambers however, after learning there would be no discussion. They instead moved to the nearby town hall community room to discuss drug abuse in the county.

Gilkey had proposed an ordinance that any drug abuser overdosing in Mason would be cited and sent to municipal court, similar to an inducing panic code. Upon appearing before the town judge, the person could be fined, jailed, or ordered to a long term rehab program.

Gilkey said during the informal panel discussion that once someone overdoses and Narcan is administered, nothing else can presently be done. The drug abuser can refuse further treatment after having tied up time and resources incurred by police and EMS.

“We have older people in town, and while we are dealing with them (the abusers), someone could be having a heart attack or a child could be choking,” the chief said. “It’s very frustrating.”

Handley said while he could not endorse the ordinance, he is encouraged by something that brings public attention to the drug problem. He cited the increasing numbers of overdose calls the county EMS has received, going from 53 between August 16, 2015 to August 16, 2016, to 146 from August 16, 2016 to August 16, 2017. So far this year, there have been 101 overdoses. Handley said by the end of the year, he expects that number to hit 200.

Handley said one concern is the cost associated with each overdose. Narcan has risen in cost from $12 to $48 per dose in the past couple of years, he stated. While the county has a grant until September that pays for the Narcan, Handley said it does not cover associated costs like IV’s, fuel, and the salaries and time spent.

The EMS director said they are presently responding to two-to-three overdoses daily, with two-to-three Narcan treatments used on each person as an average. With reimbursements to the EMS down 38 percent in the past year, Handley said he worries about how they are going to pay for Narcan after the grant expires, what is going to have to be done away with to pay for it, and how it will ultimately affect service as a whole.

Handley said those who overdose are not only endangering themselves, but others too.

“Our job is to respond quickly,” he said. “Every time we put our lives at risk, and the public, in getting to the scene.”

McGee said while he, too, could not endorse Gilkey’s proposal, having an ordinance like it that could mandate treatment gives the day report agency an opportunity to reach out to drug abusers. It helps people recover, he added.

Both Jessica and Brent Kapp transport drug abusers to treatment centers. As of June 30, Jessica said 184 from the county have been sent to long term treatment centers, with about 25 leaving before completing treatment.

“You have to let people know they can change,” she concluded.

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An impromptu panel discussion on drug abuse in Mason County was held Thursday at the Mason Town Hall. Pictured, from left, are Brent Kapp, Peer-to-Peer Drug Abuse Recovery Coach; Jessica Kapp, Drug Abuse Community Engagement Specialist; Mason Police Chief Rich Gilkey; Mason County EMS Director Dylan Handley; and Mason County Day Report Director Kyle McGee.
http://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/08/web1_8.18-PPR-Meeting.jpgAn impromptu panel discussion on drug abuse in Mason County was held Thursday at the Mason Town Hall. Pictured, from left, are Brent Kapp, Peer-to-Peer Drug Abuse Recovery Coach; Jessica Kapp, Drug Abuse Community Engagement Specialist; Mason Police Chief Rich Gilkey; Mason County EMS Director Dylan Handley; and Mason County Day Report Director Kyle McGee. Mindy Kearns | Courtesy
Proposed overdose ordinance prompts discussion

By Mindy Kearns

Special to the Register

Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at mindykearns1@hotmail.com.