Richmond Tests “First Responders for Recovery” Program

In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, Richmond Virginia launched a new program meant to save the lives of people struggling with addiction. The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and Richmond City Health District (RCHD) announced the new initiative, dubbed “First Responders for Recovery”.

The program, modeled as an evidence-based program, helps people struggling with substance use by connecting them to local recovery resources. The program uses a Peer Recovery Specialist named Courtney Nunnally. Courtney herself is a person in recovery. She’s been inspired to help others who struggle and offer them some hope.  “This program is a way for me to give others hope and a path to recovery and I really believe it will save lives.”

What Do “First Responders for Recovery” Do?

As a Peer Recovery Specialist, Courtney offers a unique perspective to EMTs and paramedics and EMTs. When a person overdoses, they are often feeling vulnerable and need guidance. They may be receptive to trying to get clean and sober, but overwhelmed or without the resources to do so. Offering them a way to get help can make all the difference.

Courtney helps paramedics and EMTs encourage patients to sign a “First Responders for Recovery” release form, where they agree to speak with a RCHD’s Peer Recovery Specialist within the next 48 hours.

Peer Recovery Specialists then connect with the patient to try and get them into a path to drug and alcohol treament. They may even be able to secure a spot in treatment the same day. If a person is hesitant, the specialist will then give them a resource packets filled with recovery options in the Metro Richmond.

Planting a Seed

Giving a person who feels trapped in addiction a way out is important. While not everyone who overdoses will try to get help right away, they at least know the options are there. Saving lives through recovery resources is possible.

Richmond has a high rate of opioid overdoses, and this program is only one step to solving the problem. Like many states, Viriginia has limited funds for new treatment centers.

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