When President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency on Thursday, he tipped his hat to a program in New Hampshire that aims to help those on the front lines.
“Fire Chief Dan Goonan of New Hampshire – great state – runs a program Safe Station, which allows drug dependent residents to seek help at fire stations at any time,” the President said.
More than 2,500 , both in and out of state, have used Safe Station in the past year.
Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard says he’s honored the city is being recognized but added he’s more impressed that this issue is getting the attention, he says, it deserves.
“By the President doing what he did today he’s letting the country know that it is on the radar screen of government – that it’s important, it’s not an issue that is just a talking point, that it is something that is going to be addressed.”
The President’s declaration does not come with additional federal dollars rather money can be shifted to combat this crisis. This worries some in the local recovery community who say it won’t have as big an impact in reducing drug addiction.
Dean LeMire works in peer recovery supports in Nashua. He’s also in long-term recovery himself.
LeMire says he has concerns the move won’t result in more resources.
“If it’s just existing money from the states, just shifting money from other strained sources like HIV treatment, are we getting into a robbing peter to pay paul scenario," he said, adding that he wished the President's declaration had focused more on recovery services.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and an East Kingston family who lost their son to opioids were among those at the White House for Trump's speech.
In a statement, Sununu applauded the president for making the declaration, and called on Congress to ensure funding gets to the communities that need it most.