A Middletown city councilman said he has “no regrets” about his suggestion the city’s public safety services not respond to some overdose calls.
Comments made by Councilman Dan Picard have gone viral, reported by news outlets around the world.
“This seems to have snowballed,” Picard said.
So far, he’s done more than 40 media interviews with news outlets around the nation and abroad, including Great Britain, Canada, Mexico and Japan.
As the Journal-News first reported, Picard, commenting on a report about the opioid crisis that is overwhelming city services and public safety units, aked if the city is required to make EMS runs for opiate overdose patients.
City Manager Doug Adkins said the city could choose to privatize its EMS services or not have EMS services and would request a law department opinion on his question.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, Adkins said he has not received the law department opinion.
He also said that “nothing’s changed” with any city policies or procedures as EMS units are dispatched for all medical emergencies as required by Ohio law.
Adkins said the city does not have nor have officials been asked to create a database of opioid overdose patients.
A local attorney, Picard suggested that a person who overdoses in Middletown receive a summons to appear in Municipal Court and receive an administrative penalty to do community service equal to the costs of the EMS runs. If there was a second occurrence, that administrative penalty would be doubled.
However, if there was a third overdose occurrence, Picard suggested that no EMS unit be summoned for the overdose patient.
“I want to send a message to the world that you don’t want to come to Middletown to overdose because someone might not come with Narcan and save your life,” Picard said. “We need to put a fear about overdosing in Middletown.”
The cost of an EMS run for an overdose, after calculating overhead, personnel and other costs, is about $1,104, said Picard, who previously announced he will not seek re-election this fall.
“This is becoming a huge expense that’s growing in leaps and bounds,” Picard said. “What happens when we run out of money?”
He said he had to take down his personal and professional Facebook pages because of the responses he has received in addition to disabling the call forwarding from his office phone to his cell phone because of late night prank calls.
Picard said he’s been told to “drop dead” or “go to hell” by some people. He also said police officers have stopped by his home to make sure everything is OK.
“I’ve engaged with more than 200 people through email and phone calls over the past week,” Picard said. “I was surprised by the nastiness of many of the responses.”
He said many of the calls he’s taken are from upset people who had a friend or loved one who died from an overdose.
“Many of these stories are really heart-wrenching,” Picard said.
He said he’s also received public and private calls and emails of support from residents and others.
“If you have a solution, give it to me,” Picard said. “We’re doing all these things, but at some point you have to have some personal responsibility in your life.”
While his comments highlighted Middletown’s struggles in the opioid crisis, Picard thinks something positive has come out of it.
“I think it helped the city’s image because it shows we’re trying to do something about this and it shows we’re thinking outside of the box and not sticking our head in the sand,” he said. “Most informed people know southwest Ohio is the epicenter of the opioid epidemic. We’re not doing the ‘same old, same old’ and getting the same results. We’re considering alternatives that can make an impact.”