A coalition of government agencies, community-based organizations, healthcare providers, and others from across Whatcom County are forming a Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group in response to the local opioid and overdose crisis. A MAC group is a type of emergency response framework that provides policy-level support and supports resource prioritization across all participating groups, and its formation speaks to the urgency and gravity of the situation.
“Multiple organizations and programs have been doing important work on prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery for many years, and this new initiative will improve coordination among groups already involved in this work,” said Erika Lautenbach, Health and Community Services Director. “Together we can create a stronger response and a more resilient community.”
The MAC group in Whatcom County, aligned with the Washington State Opioid and Overdose Response Plan, has five goals:
One of the first public-facing results of this effort is a new website, whatcomoverdoseprevention.org, where Whatcom County residents can now view local overdose data, request Naloxone, or find resources related to opioids in one central location for local information.
The website has an online form for people or organizations to request free Naloxone (an opioid overdose-reversing drug), as well as a list of other resources for free mail-order Naloxone and how to purchase the drug at a pharmacy.
The site’s data dashboard includes information on emergency department overdose visits, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls for suspected overdoses, and overdose deaths, with data from Whatcom County EMS, Medical Examiner’s Office, and Health and Community Services.
The new website will be updated regularly with additional information on community programs, and resources for community members and service providers.
The MAC group is expected to soon have representatives from healthcare, fire and emergency medical services, law enforcement, school districts, substance use disorder treatment and prevention programs, social services, elected officials, and other community partners who work with individuals and families impacted by the recent rise in opioid usage and deaths.
Visit whatcomoverdoseprevention.org to learn more.