City Manager Doug Adkins spent part of Wednesday’s City Council meeting putting out fires.
This was the first council meeting since Councilman Dan Picard suggested the city’s public safety services not respond to some overdose calls.
Picard, commenting on a report about the opioid crisis overwhelming city services and public safety units, asked if Middletown is required to make EMS runs for opiate overdose patients.
Picard suggested 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.
His comments were first reported in The Journal-News, then they became a national story repeated by other media outlets.
City officials spent the last several days answering questions from national media outlets about Picard’s comments and the story took on “its own life,” Adkins said.
When speaking to council members, Adkins called it “an interesting week” and said not responding to repeated overdose calls was “a fairly complex issue.”
Picard was out of town and didn’t attend Wednesday’s meeting that was pushed back one day because of the Independence Day holiday.
Adkins said Picard asked the Law Department to investigate whether the city had a legal obligation to dispatch to repeat opiate overdose patients. He said the city will “complete the legal research” requested and forward the information to City Council at a later date. Adkins gave no deadline saying there are “a lot of pieces to this.”
He stressed the city is “not running out of money,” but it was expending “large amounts” of public safety resources responding to the opiate crisis, as are other cities around the country.
“We are tight,” he said of the city finances. “We are OK.”
Some media outlets reported Middletown had a “three-strikes” policy proposed or it was discussed by City Council as a group, Adkins said. That was only Picard’s idea and it wasn’t shared by other members, the city manager said.
He said Picard was seeking “a legal opinion.”
Nothing has changed in the city regarding responding to overdose calls, he said.
“We give Narcan where it is medically appropriate,” he said.