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Mayor Sarno and City Officials Announce Springfield’s Continued Response Initiatives to Tackle Opioid Related Calls for Service

|   City News

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Health and Human Services (HHS) Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood, Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi, Deputy Police Chief William Cochran, Deputy Fire Chief Mike Hess, Deputy Fire Chief David Wells, Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Tony Pettaway, and members of the Springfield Police and Fire Departments joined together at the Springfield Fire Department Headquarters today to announce the city of Springfield’s continued response initiatives and programs when responding to opioid related calls for service.

Building upon Mayor Sarno’s previous announcement in April 2022 to implement a series of diverse initiatives and programs to enhance and expand the city of Springfield’s opioid response and create systems in partnership with local nonprofits, health organizations and community stakeholders.  The city of Springfield is committing over $421,000 to advance and expand Springfields citywide opioid response initiatives from the Department of Health and Human Services along with the Springfield Police and Fire Departments.  The breakdown is listed below:

Springfield Police Department:  $94,470

  • $36,600 – 200 medical bags with 300 tourniquet kits
  • $41,070 – 30 automated external defibrillators (AED) with batteries and Narcan pouches
  • $16,800 – 400 Narcan pouches for officers to carry Narcan on their tactical vest or duty belt

Springfield Fire Department:  $117,000

  • TAC units – two full-time units with vehicle (TAC 1 at Fire HQ and TAC 3 at White Street Fire Station)

Springfield Department of Health and Human Services:  $210,000

  • Mobile Medical Response Vehicle

Mayor Sarno has authorized CAFO Plante to use existing city funds from the FY23 budget to cover the costs of implementing and expanding the various multifaceted local opioid initiatives and programs, pending passage of special State legislation that would amend Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 44, Section 53, by creating a ‘general fund revenue exception’.  Currently, all money received or collected from any source by a municipality belongs to its general fund and can only be spent after appropriation.  This rule can present specific accounting challenges when conditional revenue is received, such as with the Opioid settlement monies, because the law requires this revenue to become part of the general fund even though it is earmarked and intended for a specific purpose.  

Former Governor Charlie Baker had previously tried to file a legislative bill within a supplemental budget.

Mayor Sarno and city officials will call upon the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the State Legislature to pass the needed legislation to amend MGL Chapter 44, Section 53 with the ‘general fund revenue exception’, ASAP in order to continue to support and fund local efforts to address the opioid crisis in our community.

Mayor Sarno states, “We can’t wait and must continue to hit this ‘street’ epidemic head on, while also advocating for more treatment beds here in Springfield and Western Massachusetts.  The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opioid, drug and mental health epidemic.”

Per the State-Subdivision Allocation Agreement, the funding communities receive from the Opioid settlement can only be used for opioid related expenses to mitigate the impact of the opioid crisis, including for prevention, treatment and recovery programs and response initiatives. 

Under the State-Subdivision Allocation Agreement from then Attorney General Maura Healey, the city is set to receive $7.2 million in installments through 2038. 

The continued initiatives and programs announced today include the activation of two full-time response units for the Springfield Fire Department with TAC 1 to be stationed at Springfield HQ and TAC 3 to be stationed at the White Street Fire Station; continued Narcan and AED training and equipment for Springfield Police Officers; and a specialized mobile medical vehicle to enhance opioid related response for the Department of Health and Human Services with plans to purchase a second vehicle, just to name a few.

Mayor Sarno stated, “The damage inflicted by the opioid crisis to Springfield’s most precious resource, our residents, has been tremendous and will take Herculean efforts from the city, nonprofits, our community partners and stakeholders to heal.  I want to thank Governor Maura Healey for her leadership and efforts for holding these pharmaceutical companies accountable for this opioid crisis when she served as our Attorney General.  We all have or know of a family member or friend that has been affected by the scourge of opioids.  Some beat it but some do not.”

“This announcement continues my administration’s commitment to investing in the resources needed to tackle and respond to the opioid crisis.  The new ‘TAC’ response units for our Springfield Fire Department will increase service response times and provided dedicated personnel to respond to calls for service,” added Mayor Sarno.  “Combined with the Springfield Police Department’s efforts in carrying and utilizing the life-saving Narcan and automated external defibrillators (AED’s), and our Health Departments mobile response van and the continued partnership with all of our public and private community partners and stakeholders, we are fully committed to saving lives and fighting to get this poison out of our neighborhoods.” 

Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi announced the activation of two specialized units that will allow the Springfield Fire Department to respond to opioid related calls for service. 

“I would like to thank Mayor Sarno for his continued support of the Springfield Fire Department. Funding these two units will allow the Springfield Fire Department to more quickly respond to medical incidents and overdoses in our two most heavily affected areas for opioid overdoses in the city. These units going into service is the first true service expansion of the Springfield Fire Department in over fifty years. These units will not only serve to help the public better but also help increase safety for our firefighters,” said Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi.

Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood emphasized the training her officers have received when responding to opioid related incidents and the new equipment to better respond including medical bags with tourniquet kits, automated external defibrillators (AED) and Narcan pouches that officers carry.

“The goal for the Springfield Police Department is to increase the ability of the individual officer on patrol to rapidly and effectively respond to an opioid related call for service through increased training, improved accessibility to necessary equipment and strategically deploying officers to areas of high overdose activity.  Additionally, continued training, software and utilizing our Real Time Crime Analysis Center, which serves a major role for how the Police Department and Fire Department responds to an opioid related incident.  Along with our joint efforts in responding and working with our dedicated healthcare professionals, this is all about saving lives and getting those that need lifesaving services the help they need,” said Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood. 

HHS Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris reported that the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services (SDHHS) is committed to strengthening local partnerships with community stakeholders and enhancing the behavioral health component.  The use of the specialized medical vehicle will greatly assist the city’s opioid related response efforts.  In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has approved SDHHS as a Community Naloxone Purchasing Program to help distribute this live-saving treatment to our community partners.  

“The city of Springfield will purchase a Medical Mobile Unit for the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services to bring Opioid Response services to various neighborhoods in the city. The Mobile Unit will consist of a multidisciplinary team. The service team will consist of a number of community-based organizations whose mission is to decrease the prevalence of fatal and non-fatal overdoses.  SDHHS has also been approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to be a Community Naloxone Purchasing Program Affiliate Program.  SDHHS is approved for a full subsidy when ordering naloxone and will be distributing Naloxone to our community-based partners.  This is another step in our ongoing effort to develop a robust prevention, intervention and treatment response to the opioid crisis in the city of Springfield,” said HHS Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.

Mayor Sarno stated, “I want to thank my dedicated city team, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi and his team on his life saving and changing Section 35 initiative, and all of our community partners for their continued unyielding efforts in working together to help those get the treatment and resources they need to heal from this opioid situation.  I will continue to be steadfast in working with all of our community partners and stakeholders to help those in need and secure whatever resources are necessary for Springfield and the region.”

Furthermore, the separate independent lawsuit filed in 2018 by Mayor Sarno and the city of Springfield against the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis and the crippling cost associated with it, is still pending before Hampden Superior Court. 

Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm