Fentanyl Test Strips Decriminalized
In a landmark bipartisan move this session, Governor DeSantis signed into law our top legislative priority: the decriminalization of fentanyl testing strips.
With 23% of all reported fentanyl overdoses in the state occurring in the Tampa Bay Region, this legislation has the potential to save lives within our region. For those recreational drug users and experimenters, these easy-to-use strips will likely save lives.
For those caught in chaotic or chronic opioid use, fentanyl is now the opioid of primary use. Xylazine, instead, is the newest substance adulterating the illicit drug supply and causing an uptick in fatal overdoses statewide. Xylazine has the additional problem of causing skin ulcers and wounds that require attention. Many harm reduction programs provide wound care kits and are trained in treating wounds.
Fentanyl Test Strip Implementation Committee
For this legislation to have impact, we must think strategically about who would best be served by access to this potentially life-saving technology. The Fentanyl Test Strip Implementation Committee has been asked by the bill sponsors to grapple with this issue, as we roll out access to FTS strips. Email Jennifer Webb to request to join this important committee and ensure that this legislation makes a difference.
In the meantime, here is a reference guide for using fentanyl test strips provided by Dancesafe.
Funding for Law Enforcement Initiatives Approved
In the Tampa Bay Region, law enforcement officers and first responders respond to 12,500 overdoses each year and 7,000 of these REFUSE to be transported to Emergency Departments. Simultaneously, law enforcement agencies are encouraged to roll out broad best practices with little technical assistance and cross-jurisdictional coordination. This project aims to help expand programs and increase efficacy of practices to serve those overdosing, along with the broader population of those being revived. We anticipate serving with 1,000 individuals and connecting 700 citizens to recovery services and/or treatment services throughout the Tampa Bay Region.
At the request of Sheriffs’ Offices and Police Departments within our region – and, in partnership with law enforcement agencies and service providers- this program will aid coordination across law enforcement jurisdiction by
- measuring outcomes of efforts currently being implemented
- assisting agencies in coordinating/sharing data and lessons learned across jurisdiction
- tweaking implementation of efforts based on data/lessons learned,
- assisting in develop of community supports and workforce to assist law enforcement in navigation of post-overdose victims.
At $600 per person served across 8 law enforcement jurisdictions, this is a solid investment in a program designed to both serve individuals and improve implementation of programs. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of funds will go directly to implementing this project.
4 peer support supervisors will:
- support the law enforcement agencies (a mix of sheriffs’ offices and police departments) in implementing best practices
- train and provide co-supervision to the peers (who will be hired through county-level opioid settlement dollars).
These individuals and the peers they train will provide peer support and navigation. Building from the success of our first Law Enforcement and First Responder Statewide Opioid Summit which attracted 125 officers from across the state, we will again host this summit to share strategies for successfully implementing best practices and anticipate an attendance of 250 officers and first responders.
Broader Value to the State
Leave Behind Programs, Behavioral Health Intervention Teams, post-overdose peer navigation and respite housing, evaluation of systems breakdowns in fatal overdoses, and coordination of efforts through OD Maps are all best practices being utilized by our law enforcement agencies in the Tampa Bay region, and across the state, to varying degrees of success. This program will measure the outcomes of implementation of programs already in existence, identify which implementation tactics are most successful according to the data, share this data with law enforcement agencies, and then offer supplement support in deploying modified tactics for best practice implementation. Once these modified tactics are deployed, these will then be measured to ensure success. This coordination and share of outcomes and tactics will serve as a strong model for support throughout the state of those individuals who refuse transport to emergency departments after an overdose.
Join Our Team
We are hiring Law Enforcement Liaisons for this program. If you or someone you know would be interested in joining our Live Tampa Bay team, please contact Jennifer Webb.