March 20, 2019

Senator Hassan Hears From Manchester Fire, Police, and EMTs About Toll of Opioid Epidemic On First Responders

MANCHESTER – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan yesterday met with fire fighters, police officers, and EMTs to hear about the toll that the deadly fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic is taking on those on the front lines of the crisis. At the Manchester Fire Department, Senator Hassan was joined by Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan, Manchester Police Chief Carlo Capano, and Regional Director of American Medical Response Chris Stawasz.

Last year, Senator Hassan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, worked to secure critical New Hampshire priorities in the bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act that the President signed into law last October, including expanding training programs to help ensure that first responders are safe when they respond to overdoses. The bipartisan legislation also included other key measures to support law enforcement such as the STOP Act, which Senator Hassan cosponsored to curb the shipment of fentanyl into the country through U.S. Postal Service, and the Preventing Drug Diversion Act, which Senator Hassan introduced to help crack down on bad actors in the pharmaceutical industry who fail to report suspicious orders to the DEA.  

See coverage highlights below:

WMUR (VIDEO): Fight against opioid crisis takes toll on first responders

By Mike Cherry

wmur 2

First responders are on the front line of New Hampshire's drug epidemic every day, and the trauma they experience dealing with the victims often follows them home.

Manchester police, firefighters and EMTs described the consequences of compassion fatigue Tuesday to U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan.

"Certainly in my 35 years on the job, I've never seen this much death," Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan said.

During a roundtable discussion, officials told Hassan that their fight against the opioid crisis is taking a toll.

"The impact of this epidemic on children, that is what's bothering these first responders the most, because having parents with addiction has become the norm for some of them," Hassan said.

[…] Hassan said the issues discussed Tuesday will be addressed in future federal legislation to improve resources for New Hampshire.

Union Leader: Aldermen unanimous in support of Safe Station

5c9125b2694a9

Photo Courtesy of Shawne K. Wickham/Union Leader

By Paul Feely

City aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday night to support the Safe Station program, despite threats over the weekend from one of their own to shut it down.

[…] Earlier in the day, Sen. Maggie Hassan paid a visit to Central Fire Station to hear about the emotional toll the deadly drug epidemic is taking on the city’s first responders.

Fire Chief Dan Goonan told Hassan in his 35 years in the fire service, “I’ve never seen this much death.”

“I’m worried about what my firefighters have seen,” he said.

It’s the same for the police, Chief Carlo Capano said, noting 80 percent of his officers have fewer than five years on the job. “The amount of death these young officers have seen is just tremendous,” he said.

Firefighters are “problem solvers,” District Fire Chief Brendan Burns told Hassan. “But this is something we don’t have any answers for.”

Police Capt. Allen Aldenberg, a military veteran, urged leaders to provide resiliency training, in hopes of preventing the high rates of suicide the country has seen among those who have served. “I’ve known countless soldiers whose lives have been saved because of resiliency training,” he said.

God forbid, he told Hassan, that the city loses a police officer or firefighter to suicide. “That’s a game changer,” he said.

It’s already happened in the ambulance service, Chris Stawacz, regional director of American Medical Response (AMR), told Hassan. One of his young EMTs committed suicide in December.

[…] Trying to address the drug crisis, Hassan told the first responders, has been “the hardest single public policy thing I’ve ever dealt with.” And she promised to do all she can to get them the resources they need, including more “spoke” services in smaller, rural communities so fewer people end up traveling to Manchester for help.

“You have been national leaders on something you never intended to lead on,” Hassan said. “I am honored to have you all as partners in this, and we’ll do our best to move forward and get you the resources you need.”

###