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Quick Response Team gets grant: Goal is to help those who overdose get treatment

The Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is sending out $1.3 million in Drug Abuse Response Team (DART) grant program grants to 30 local substance abuse teams and the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office’s Quick Response Team will be getting a grant of $137,500.

“We got one of the biggest grants in the state,” said Prosecutor Brigham Anderson, adding this is the third year the QRT has gotten such a grant. “It has been very successful. Our outcomes have been good and I think the latest grant is a reflection of that. I think that shows what we have done over the past two years, our overdose numbers have improved and people have been well served by the program.”

The DART Grant Program reimburses some of the personnel and other costs for local law enforcement or government agency teams that deploy in response to overdoses and other effects of the opioid epidemic.

The goal of the Quick Response Team is to reach out within 48 hours to individuals who have overdosed and try to get them into a treatment facility and that the grant from the Attorney General’s Office furthers that process.

The prosecutor’s office and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office collaborate, and sheriff’s detective Brad Layman is assigned to the QRT. The prosecutor’s office gets reports from Lawrence County EMS when they respond to an overdose. It’s Layman’s job to respond to all non-death overdoses and explain what local treatment options that are available.

“Our goal is to getting them into treatment, so they don’t overdose again,” Anderson said. “We try to get these people in treatment in lieu of being criminally charged with anything.”

Anderson said that the Quick Response Team is just one program that his office has to in the fight against the substance abuse crisis.

There is also a program that offers low-level, non-violent offenders with substance issues an option of a year of drug treatment rather than jail time.

“If they successfully complete that, then they are never charged with a crime,” Anderson said. “That way, they don’t have a record that can affect things like employment.”

Another program is the Drug and Major Crime Task Force, which is done with the sheriff’s office and the police departments throughout the county.

“We pursue about 70 drug traffickers a year,” Anderson said.

One recent case the task force brought to court was the February arrest of Spanish Smith for trafficking large amounts of heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl in Proctorville. In September, Smith was sentenced to 54 years in prison for multiple counts of trafficking in heroin, aggravated trafficking in drugs (methamphetamine), and one count of having weapons while on community control.

Anderson said the fourth program is going into local schools and educating students about the dangers of drugs.

“We are in the schools almost weekly talking to kids,” he said. “We have to combat the drug crisis from all angles if we hope to solve the problem.