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Opioid-Heroin Summit Turns Attention to First Responders

Opioid-Heroin Summit Turns Attention to First Responders
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More than 600 people are in Mississippi for the annual Opioid-Heroin Summit. Law enforcement says they're seeing gains in combating the crisis. But as MPB's Desare Frazier reports, there's a growing focus on first responders.

This is the third year for the Opioid-Heroin summit in Mississippi. John Dowdy, Director of Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics says since the conference began, there has been a decrease in the number of opioid-related deaths.

"In 2017, 74 percent of drug overdose deaths reported to MBN were opioid-related. Last year that number dropped to 60 percent," said Dowdy.

Dowdy says there's still a lot of work to do. The summit brings together law enforcement and healthcare providers to help families with loved ones struggling with drug addiction. This year, there's training to help first responders cope with what they experience on the job. Steve Redmond, a recovering alcoholic and Seattle Police Officer is here. He started a program to help first responders recognize post traumatic stress disorder and compassion fatigue and seek treatment.

"If you have post traumatic stress or compassion fatigue a lot of times there's an addiction of some sort. Maybe it's an addiction to a substance, alcohol, prescription pain killers, drugs, but also it can be an addiction to overworking," said Redmond.

Edward Henning of Jackson is a DEA supervisor. He says he's suffered trauma and sought help. Henning appreciates what Steve Redmond is doing.

"It's good to lead by example the way he does, showing that's it's ok to talk about the trauma and police officers, first responders, special agents were often the worst as far as coming or asking for help because we see ourselves as the ones that are supposed to give help," said Henning.

The summit continues today at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison.