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Shannon Childers, Post-Overdose Response Team/Community Paramedic
Photo courtesy of Alexander County Government

Program In Place In Alexander County To Address Recent Rise In Drug Overdoses

In response to the challenges posed by drug addiction and the alarming rise in overdose incidents, Alexander County is taking action to address this public health crisis. This is being done through the creation of the Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT) and Community Paramedic program.

Shannon Childers, who has worked with Alexander County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for the past seven years, was named the PORT/Community Paramedic in October 2023. Since that time, he has provided “boots on the ground” support for overdose victims and their families.

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners, Substance Use Disorder Coalition, County Manager Shane Fox, and EMS Director Jeff Sigmon saw and understood the need for the PORT program as overdoses have risen drastically in recent years. In 2023, there were 152 overdoses with 14 deaths, compared to 96 overdoses in 2022 and 83 overdoses in 2021.

The PORT program is funded with Opioid Settlement Funding which resulted from litigation against several pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers for their role in creating the opioid epidemic. Alexander County will receive approximately $6 million over the next 18 years.

When someone experiences an overdose, Childers will go to the home as soon as possible (within 72 hours) to meet and talk with the person and the family about getting help and seeking recovery from addiction. Since PORT’s origin in Alexander County, one of the first steps was to increase the availability of Narcan (naloxone), which can reverse an opioid overdose. Local agencies including EMS and the Sheriff’s Office have naloxone on hand to treat overdose victims and save their lives.

For more information about the Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT)/Community Paramedic program, contact Childers at (828) 352-7824 or schilders@alexandercountync.gov. Much more on this can be found at www.alexandercountync.gov.

[News release courtesy of Alexander County Government]