By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
City Councilor John Leo McKinnon, the chairperson of the Council’s Special Opioid task Force said this week that the committee will be making a resolution to ask Mayor Carlo DeMaria to look into the concept of putting licensed addiction counselors with medical and sociology backgrounds into police cruisers or on fire trucks to ensure that all local opiate-related emergency calls are met by someone who will be focused on getting help for the victims and their families.
“I have talked about this with the Mayor, he knows what we are asking for and I think that he will take a serious look at this proposal,” said McKinnon. “Other communities around us have been doing this for years, Wakefield has had clinicians working with first responders for seven years. We are behind the times on this and it is something that we need to get for our residents.”
According to McKinnon, the concept of putting licensed addiction counselors or clinicians with first responders improves the chances that residents found overdosing will seek treatment and also gives the family members of addicted residents a support network that can help them find the help they need for their loved ones.
“This is a request that we will make from the City Council and we are going to ask that the Mayor respond to us by the August meeting, so that we can get started as soon as possible,” said McKinnon.
The Council is making no recommendation on how to fund this program, with McKinnon saying that will be up to the Mayor to suggest.
“However, I know we have a very good grant writer and this is the type of thing that there should be grant money available for,” said McKinnon.
McKinnon said he hopes the program can begin this year, as soon as a funding source is identified.