To The Daily Sun,
On July 12, 2017, a New York Times article was published, titled “A Small-Town Police Officer’s War on Drugs". The article is regarding the ongoing opioid epidemic here in New Hampshire, and specifically how the Lakes Region is affected. More specifically, the report details the efforts going on behind the scenes to try to make some positive impact out of a negative situation. And unfortunately, it seems that the mayor of Laconia, Edward Engler, is blind to what is actually going on in his city.
It appears that Mayor Engler is out of touch with the actual needs of the citizens and visitors of Laconia. In the article, the mayor states ‘‘this so-called heroin epidemic,’’ and goes on to say “Here, locally, the heroin epidemic, whatever you want to call it, has not crossed over in any obvious way from the underclass to the middle, middle-upper class.” These statements, as well as the context he continued with in the article, show his failure to grasp the problems that are faced by the citizens and the first responders within our great city. It is disheartening how the mayor seems to believe underclass citizens of Laconia do not matter and only when it begins to be a problem in the higher social and economic classes that he will see it as a real issue. The mayor is supposed to govern for all the people of the community, to fight for the welfare of all citizens, not just the upper class.
The men and women of the Laconia Professional Firefighters Local 1153 respond alongside the Laconia Police Department to all of those in need, regardless of their social class. We focus our resources, knowledge, skills, and ability to save all lives that are affected by narcotic overdoses. Once we have successfully revived the victim, we attempt to help them begin a road to recovery. We assist the patient and the family in contacting the right agencies to begin the journey to recovery.
Late last year, Fire Chief Ken Erickson assigned Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Keyes as the Fire Department’s Recovery Coordinator to assist in the mission of Officer Eric Adams and the Prevention Enforcement & Treatment Program (PET). Once a patient is revived, the recovery coordinator’s business card is given not only to the victim of the overdose but also to the patient’s family members. Supporting the patient and the family is prominent as both suffer from the effects of narcotic use. Following the inception of the Fire Department’s recovery program, FF Keyes has had 47 individuals contact him looking for help. Out of these 47 contacts, FF Keyes has successfully assisted 25 people in long-term recovery and given them a chance to have their life back - substance free.
Many may argue that number is but a small percentage of our population, and even the mayor seems to downplay the numbers (or flat-out refuses to accept that there is an issue, to begin with). But, as has been shown through multiple success stories and lives impacted positively, it’s easy to see that we are changing lives for the better with each that we assist into recovery.
It stands to reason that, if we can help someone obtain recovery, we will see a positive return in many areas, including positive role models for others affected by substance misuse disorder. A family will have a loved one back. Jobs can be obtained, and once again those who have recovered can provide for themselves or their family, and contribute to the financial stability of the community. Petty crimes or theft could drop, causing decreased workloads on first responders, the court system, and incarceration rates.
The members of the Laconia Professional Firefighters stand behind FF Keyes and Officer Adams in their efforts to better our community, with or without the social acceptance of the mayor. We will help ANY and ALL citizens and visitors of our community toward a path to recovery. Who you are or what your situation is will not be dismissed, as it sounds like it has been by Mayor Engler. To our citizens, please know, the men and women of the Laconia Professional Firefighters Local 1153 stand with our police brothers and sisters as we are here to help you 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Jason Griffin, President
Laconia Professional Firefighters
- Written by Edward Engler
- Category: Letters
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