Safe Station, one year later: Despite progress, April ODs way up and deadly carfentanil is a game-changer

One year of Safe Station in Manchester, but the challenges remain.

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May 5, 2016: The City of Manchester announced a groundbreaking “Safe Station” initiative and an expansion of the Granite United Way’s 2-1-1 NH service.

One year ago today a press conference was held on the apparatus floor bay of our Headquarters announcing that “Safe Station” had begun.  Since that time we have tweaked, changed, altered, cut, added, and enhanced a program that has had over 1,600 visits through our doors from people looking for help with Substance Use Disorder. 

1600+ visits

1100+ unique individuals

All 10 NH counties

125+ different NH communities

9 different states

9 replicated Safe Station Programs

Suspected opiate ODs May 2015 – April 2016: 790

Suspected opiate ODs May 2016 – April 2017: 743

 Change: -6%

Suspected opiate Deaths May 2015 – April 2016:  94

Suspected opiate Deaths May 2016 – April 2017: 68

Change  -32%

So that’s the good news.  Here is the bad:  Carfentanil is a significantly strong opiate that has made its way onto Manchester streets and destroyed the positive changes we were seeing with overdoses. 

In the span of six weeks, from mid-March through the end of April, the city responded to 127 suspected opiate-related overdoses.  This was almost the same amount we responded to in the 2½ months previously.  The potency increased, the amount of Naloxone administered increased (over 300 milligrams [150+ doses] given by MFD/AMR in April alone), and worst of all, the demand increased.  People knew it was out there long before we did and were actively seeking it out.  This tremendous strain on the Manchester first responders is just a perfect example of the impact that one single drug can have on a community.

Most recent stats are compiled below: