San Francisco rolls out overdose response teams to curb opioid-related deaths

San Francisco launched a new street overdose response team aimed at reducing fatal opioid overdoses on city streets.

The mayor's office said overdose deaths within the homeless community have doubled in the last year. Some of those who live on the streets near U.N. Plaza said they know getting high can be dangerous, even deadly.

"Whenever you're getting high with someone, assuming you're with someone, which is probably the better way to do it, you don't know if that person is going to be overdosing. If they don't have that Narcan or something it's bad news," said Andrew Enrico from San Francisco.

The city's overdose response team is made up of firefighter paramedics and public health workers.

Paramedic Michael Mason said one of the best predictors for someone who may have a deadly overdose, is someone who survives an overdose.

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"Not only are we responding directly to folks that have survived a non-fatal overdose,  but we're finding out who they are and then adding them to a high-risk registry," said Captain Mason. "They are being flagged for follow-up care."

The purpose of follow-up care is to prevent another, possibly fatal overdose. Health care experts say the shock of a near-deadly overdose may provide a unique opportunity to reach someone in crisis.

"The aim is basically to meet people where they are immediately after an overdose. And to try to engage them into care, to try to start them on medications to help with their treatment and to save their lives," said Kevin Lagor from San Francisco's Department of Health.

The street overdose response teams are part of a broader $13.2 million effort to address drug overdoses, including treatment centers, investing in addiction treatment programs, and distributing opioid inhibitors, which could reverse an overdose.