The Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department will receive $200,000 over the next two years from Beaufort County that will allow the department to staff a medical officer, who will direct and implement an opiate abatement strategy. The department will receive $100,000 each year with the possibility of future awards, said Fire Chief Tim Ogden.
The medical officer will oversee the department’s medical training program and help educate first responders in pre-arrest diversion programs, post-overdose response teams, and similar strategies that connect at-risk individuals to services and support, he said.
Approximately $1 million was awarded to Beaufort County by the South Carolina Opioid Settlement Funds from the 2022 national opioids settlement. The Beaufort County Opiate Abatement Team invited organizations to apply for grants from this settlement, and selected the Fire Department as one of its grantees.
Beaufort County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Department held a brief ceremony and check presentation, awarding funds to help five area agencies reach their opiate abatement strategy goals. Each recipient gave brief remarks about their projects and community impact goals.
The five organizations receiving grant money are:
- Good Neighbor Medical Clinic
- Mercy Me
- City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department
- AccessHealth Lowcountry
- Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation
“This was an opportunity for us to continue to grow our medical program by providing an additional layer of service,” Chief Ogden said.
The department also just received its Advance Life Support License, which allows the department to provide a paramedic level of care. “We are excited to be able to provide a high level of care to our citizens along with our public education and prevention programs that help keep our community safe,” Ogden said.
He said he hopes to promote from within for the position of medical officer.
“Beaufort County’s commitment to combating the opioid crisis is unwavering. By awarding these funds, we are not only fostering a collaborative approach that empowers local organizations to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those affected, but we are demonstrating our commitment to combating the opioid crisis head-on,” said Larry McElynn, Beaufort County Council Member and former Special Agent with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).