Safe Stations celebrates first year

Safe Stations celebrates first year

This month marks the first anniversary of a program that’s saving hundreds of lives in a Maryland county ravaged by addiction.

Last April, County Executive Steve Schuh, flanked by police and fire chiefs, the health officer, state’s attorney and a woman named Jen Corbin – head of the county’s crisis response system – announced that every police and fire station in Anne Arundel County would become a “safe station” – a place where anyone suffering with addiction could “show up” and receive immediate help.

How does it work?   First, fire personnel assess the individual and then call crisis response.  A crisis response team arrives quickly, normally within 20 minutes.  The team talks with the individual and determines the next step. It could be a hospital ER, inpatient treatment, a halfway house or a temporary bed in a safe place until appropriate care is available.  “There’s no cookie-cutter approach, “says Corbin.   “We meet people where they are, what they need at that moment.”  And that’s just the beginning.  Corbin and her staff follow the individual through recovery.

Are there setbacks?  Of course, as there are in every disease, but in addiction it’s especially tricky.  Regardless, Corbin and county leaders are pleased that more than half of the Safe Station participants make it through a recovery program – and others are at least alive to try another day.

Based on a similar program in New Hampshire, authorities expected to see a few people each week.  In its first year, Safe Stations has cared for more than 600 men and women.

Why does the program work?

  • the commitment of governmental leaders and allied professionals sick of seeing people die from overdose
  • a legal system that’s willing to delay court proceedings in favor of treatment
  • a devoted crisis response team that’s spearheaded by a remarkable woman
  • a county where overdose kills people every week

A year ago Anne Arundel County knew something had to change.  Why not try opening doors to recovery?

Now Safe Stations is saving lives, one person at a time.