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Community Safety

Overdose Response Team Works To Save Lives

Branson Police Department

An effort in Branson by multiple agencies is aimed at preventing overdose deaths.  The Overdose Response Team was formed in January.  It’s a partnership between the Branson Police Department and the Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Health.  That includes Burrell Behavioral Health, the Stone and Taney County Substance Use Initiative and the Combined Ozarks Multi-Jurisdictional Enforcement Team.

Branson Police lieutenant, Sean Barnwell, said the team was formed after they started seeing an increase in overdose calls.

"We wanted to look at what we could do locally to truly make a difference for those in our community that are suffering from this problem," he said.

Team members—a detective, a police chaplain and a mental health liaison—do follow up visits after a person has overdosed or they visit with those at risk of overdosing.  

"The team provides individuals with information on harm reduction and overdose prevention, treatment and detox resources and hope for recovery," said Burrell substance use disorder liaison, Rachel Hudson.  "We try to build a relationship with the person and let them know that they are valuable and worthy of help."

They also can provide patients and their families with naloxone, which is used to save someone's life who is overdosing.

And Barnwell said the effort has been successful.

"Last year we had just an enormous amount of overdoses.  We had a lot of success with Naloxone," he said, "and we had some fatalities as well.  This year, since we've been involved, I've been told that they've attributed at least four saves to this team that has gone out and made contacts with the families."

According to Barnwell, the Overdose Response Team goes out every week to make visits.  He said the program allows his department to be proactive, "something that we want to do and generally we have a hard time finding time to do it, but it's definitely worth the effort if we can save a life."

And, even though its not the aim of the program, the effort is helping to get drug distributors off the street.  A detective is on the team, not only for safety reasons, but to follow up if, during the visits, they find out where the drugs are coming from, according to Barnwell.

Anyone who feels they or someone they know could benefit from meeting with the Overdose Response Team should call the Branson Police Department at (417) 334-3300.