APG to join fight against opi­oid epi­demic

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRAD KRO­NER bkro­ner@ches­pub.com ALL FOR Ex­pires 9/ 30/ 17. Please call to make an ap­point­ment.

EDGE­WOOD — Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground (APG) is bring­ing its world-class re­search and de­vel­op­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties to the fight against the opi­oid epi­demic, of­fi­cials an­nounced at the Na­tional Opi­oid Cri­sis Com­mu­nity Sum­mit on Thurs­day.

This part­ner­ship be­tween the state of Maryland and APG rep­re­sents another piece in the on­go­ing effort to fight the opi­oid epi­demic. Dur­ing his re­marks, Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford re­flected on the num­ber of ini­tia­tives the state has un­der­taken, in­clud­ing declar­ing a state of emer­gency, creating heroin co­or­di­na­tors to track the drug’s trade, and start­ing “Be­fore It’s Too Late,” an on­line aware­ness cam­paign.

Now, as the opi­oid epi­demic con­tin­ues its spread across the state and coun­try, Ruther­ford called for an “all­hands-on-deck ap­proach” to foster col­lab­o­ra­tion.

”Aberdeen has a lot of ex­per­tise when it comes to chem­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and re­search,” Ruther­ford said. “I can’t fore­cast ex­actly what we’re go­ing to re­ceive out of this, but we’re go­ing to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.”

Har­ford County Ex­ec­u­tive Barry Glass­man praised the move as another strong part­ner­ship in the fight against the epi­demic. Call­ing APG “the world’s cen­ter for chem­i­cal re­search,” Glass­man said that “adding that ex­tra layer of tech­nol­ogy as a way to solve this epi­demic is very im­por­tant.”

Lo­cally, APG is per­haps best known for its mu­ni­tions test­ing in Aberdeen, but the Edge­wood Chem­i­cal Bi­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter, on the base’s south­ern end, is Amer­ica’s prin­ci­pal re­source for chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal re­search and de­vel­op­ment.

”Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground is renowned for amaz­ing break­throughs, in­no­va­tions, and rev­o­lu­tion­ary finds,” Glass­man said. “For decades, we have looked to this in­stal­la­tion to pro­tect our sol­diers and our bor­ders. Now we turn to you for your help to pro­tect our sons, our daugh­ters, our friends and neigh­bors from this epi­demic.”

Maj. Gen. Randy Tay­lor, se­nior mis­sion com­man­der of APG, said the “light­bulb kind of came on” came af­ter com­mu­nity lead­ers asked the Army to get in­volved, point­ing to APG’s team of sci­en­tists and re­searchers.

”We’ve got the world’s best chem­i­cal and med­i­cal ex­perts here,” Tay­lor said. “This ca­pa­bil­ity doesn’t ex­ist any­where else in our coun­try or in the world.”

The gen­eral ex­plained that ev­ery chem­i­cal known to man that can cause harm is stud­ied at APG, where coun­ter­mea­sures are then de­vel­oped.

” We’re go­ing to share some of our lessons, some of our ex­per­tise, and so­licit feed­back from the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Tay­lor said that the Army has treated over 66,000 ser­vice mem­bers for opi­oid ad­dic­tion. Over the last five years, the Army has re­duced over-pre­scrip­tion of painkillers by 45 per­cent.

As one ex­am­ple of APG’s work on this is­sue so far, of­fi­cials pointed to a set of high­tech man­nequin, known as a manikin, used to sim­u­late a range of med­i­cal is­sues, in­clud­ing am­pu­ta­tions and seizures. One manikin is used to sim­u­late opi­oid over­doses and how to re­spond.

Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment, of­fi­cials split into breakout groups for fur­ther sem­i­nars deal­ing with more specifics.

”We started this morn­ing talk­ing about treat­ment,” Tay­lor said. “What we’re go­ing to get into deeply as the day pro­gresses is de­tec­tion, es­pe­cially now that the chem­i­cals we’re talk­ing about — fen­tanyl and opi­oids in gen­eral — can be weaponized to harm mass pop­u­la­tions.”

As of­fi­cials talked about the epi­demic, they also re­minded the au­di­ence that the epi­demic im­pacts all de­mo­graph­ics and doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate.

Jen­nifer Tip­pett, a re­cov­ery ad­vo­cate, spoke at the sum­mit, shar­ing her per­sonal story los­ing her hus­band Justin.

Tip­pett re­mem­bered her hus­band as a “lov­ing fa­ther, dot­ing hus­band, car­ing son and brother, and a loyal friend.” She re­mem­bered him as a coach of base­ball and wrestling, an extreme couponer, a con­stant source of comic re­lief, and a “lost car key fin­der.”

“He was my best friend, and one of the best peo­ple I will ever know,” she said. “He was also an ad­dict, and there it is — that dirty lit­tle word.”

Tip­pett called for an end to the stigma around the word “ad­dict.”

“That word is so pow­er­ful that it can come to de­fine a per­son de­spite all they bring into the world,” she said.

Ce­cil County of­fi­cials re­marked on the tim­ing of the sum­mit, which came four days af­ter a week­end that saw 25 over­doses and five fa­tal­i­ties in 72 hours.

”This is a real cri­sis that is claim­ing the lives of our young peo­ple,” said Ce­cil County Ex­ec­u­tive Alan McCarthy, who at­tended the sum­mit along with mem­bers of his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ex­plain­ing that he was look­ing for more ap­proaches to fight the epi­demic, McCarthy said, “I’m look­ing for the sil­ver bul­let. There’s dry bones here.”

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County Ex­ec­u­tive Alan McCarthy looks on as speak­ers talk about the opi­oid epi­demic.

CE­CIL WHIG PHO­TOS BY BRAD KRO­NER

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Randy Tay­lor talks about Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground’s ef­forts to join in the fight against the opi­oid epi­demic.

Direc­tor of Emer­gency Ser­vices Richard Brooks and County Ex­ec­u­tive Alan McCarthy talk about the strug­gles Ce­cil County has faced with the opi­oid epi­demic, with five suf­fer­ing over­dose deaths last week­end.

As Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground joins the fight against the opi­oid epi­demic, Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford em­pha­sizes the need for an “all-hand­son-deck ap­proach.”

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