Opi­oid aware­ness signs in­stalled through­out QA’s

Record Observer - - NEWS - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — In an at­tempt to raise aware­ness and gather com­mu­nity at­ten­tion, the Queen Anne’s County Drug Free Coali­tion be­gan its cam­paign last week against the na­tional opi­oid epi­demic by plac­ing signs in two prom­i­nent lo­ca­tions that list the un­of­fi­cial num­ber of over­doses and deaths year-to-date in the county.

On the morn­ing of Wed­nes­day, June 28, mem­bers of the Drug Free Coali­tion, County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers from the Cen­tre­ville Po­lice Depart­ment, the Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and Mary­land State Po­lice gath­ered at the Cen­tre­ville Bar­rack off U.S. Route 301 to in­stall its first opi­oid aware­ness sign.

Signs were erected out­side the Mary­land State Po­lice Bar­rack as well as in front of Queen Anne’s County High School for max­i­mum ex­po­sure. Signs are planned to be put up across from Kent Is­land High School, a lo­ca­tion in Sudlersville that is yet to be de­ter­mined, and, with the help of the state, near the en­try of Queen Anne’s County com­ing off the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Bridge.

The signs, which un­of­fi­cially ac­count for the num­ber of county cit­i­zens as well as visi­tors who have over­dosed both in and out­side of the county, list 20 over­doses and three deaths year-to-date.

The num­bers, which will be up­dated reg­u­larly by Mary­land State Po­lice, gather statis­tics from Jan­uary to May 2017. The signs out­side of the high schools will be up­dated by each school re­source of­fi­cer from the sher­iff’s of­fice.

Maj. Dwayne Boardman of the sher­iff’s of­fice said he re­ceives weekly up­dates on over­dose and death num­bers. Dur­ing the Drug Free Coali­tion meet­ing at the Sher­iff’s Of­fice in June, mem­bers dis­cussed how the num­ber of over­doses and deaths the state of­fi­cially counts only is de­ter­mined by where the per­son ac­tu­ally has the in­ci­dent, not where the per­son is from.

A press re­lease from Mary­land State Po­lice said it is com­mon for users to travel to more densely oc­cu­pied ar­eas to pick up their drugs and in turn use the il­licit opi­oids else­where from the lo­ca­tion they live.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2016 Drug- and Al­co­hol-Re­lated In­tox­i­ca­tion Deaths in Mary­land re­port by the state Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene, Queen Anne’s County had four heroin-re­lated deaths, two pre­scrip­tion opi­oid deaths and four fen­tanyl deaths that oc­curred in the county lim­its.

The num­ber of opi­oid re­lated deaths statewide in­creased about 70 per­cent from 2015 to 2016 (from 1,089 to 1,856, re­spec­tively).

Two of the signs, which cost about $700, were pur­chased by Drug Free Coali­tion mem­ber Jim Roy. County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran said the county would match Roy’s do­na­tion with two more signs.

Mo­ran, who has been vo­cal about putting up aware­ness signs that re­flect all of people af­fected in and out­side of the county, said the signs are here to keep the com­mu­nity aware of what’s go­ing on 24/7, 365 days a year.

Mo­ran said at the end of the com­mis­sion’s June 27 meet­ing that by count­ing an over­dose or death as a statis­tic for an­other county when the res­i­dent is from Queen Anne’s County can make it look as if the epi­demic is not as preva­lent in the com­mu­nity.

“If they’re a cit­i­zen of Queen Anne’s County, they live here and they re­side here and no mat­ter where they die, it points to the prob­lem we have in the com­mu­nity,” Mo­ran said. “And by wa­ter­ing that down by saying, ‘well, they didn’t die here so we re­ally don’t have a prob­lem,’ I think is a gross ne­glect on the county’s part.”

Roy brought heavy equip­ment to each lo­ca­tion to in­stall the signs, Mo­ran do­nated con­crete and Friel’s Lum­ber Com­pany con­trib­uted eight pres­sure treated posts.

Queen Anne’s County State’s At­tor­ney Lance Richard­son said the signs be­ing in vis­i­ble lo­ca­tions is a “sober­ing re­minder” of the is­sue at hand and helps keep the aware­ness “fresh as an is­sue.”

Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Scott Haas said putting the signs up was an­other step in the right di­rec­tion by fur­ther mak­ing the pub­lic aware of how opi­oids are af­fect­ing the com­mu­nity.

“If these signs help to dis­cour­age one per­son from us­ing heroin, we will have made a dif­fer­ence,” Drug Free Coali­tion Chair­per­son War­ren Wright said.

The Drug Free Coali­tion meets bi-monthly at the sher­iff’s of­fice in Cen­tre­ville the se­cond Wed­nes­day of the month from 8 to 10 a.m. in Fe­bru­ary, April, June, Au­gust, Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @ mike_k­ibay­times.

PHO­TOS BY MIKE DAVIS

Lt. Tim McDon­ald with Mary­land State Po­lice, Scott Haas with the county’s Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices, County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran, Cen­tre­ville Po­lice Chief Char­lie Rhodes, Lt. Mark Meil with the Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, Jim Roy and State’s At­tor­ney Lance Richard­son stand by the newly in­stalled opi­oid aware­ness sign in­stalled across from Queen Anne’s County High School on June 28.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

An opi­oid aware­ness sign was in­stalled across the street from Queen Anne’s County High School on Wed­nes­day, June 28, by mem­bers of the county’s Drug Free Coali­tion. The signs state the num­ber of deaths and over­doses.

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