The Journal ran an article about the City potentially converting a closed fire station to a Post-Treatment Recovery Center. There were several comments on the Journal web page that included:
“Let the idiots die that make the choice to shove heroin in themselves.”
“How about a row of Noose’s lined up on Donham Square were we can Hang the Dopers and Pusher’s every Sunday Afternoon and the Have Famous Recipe cater a Chicken Lunch! All Drug Users and Sellers Deserve and Need the Death Penalty!”
“The cost to revive the heroin addict doesn’t have to be that high. Thin the herd. If they don’t care any more for their lives than to take the risk of dying with each usage, why should we, the people, care? Just let ’em go. Apparently it’s what they want to do as they are willing to roll the dice on death each time.”
It’s just not that simple folks. Some of addiction does result from poor choices. Others get addicted to pain medication from a work or sports injury and convert to heroin once they are addicted and can’t get prescriptions any more.
Some people get addicted to heroin with only one use of the drug. Would you condemn your son or daughter to death later in a car accident because they “chose” not to wear their seat belt one time? Does someone really deserve to die for one incredibly stupid mistake in judgment?
Drug addiction and the heroin epidemic across the county is more complicated than the Journal statements above. If it was simple and easy and straight forward, we as a country would have already solved it and moved on to other problems.
So let’s talk about the Fire Station for a couple of minutes. We monitor locations and type of EMS and Fire runs being made on an ongoing basis. When we looked at closing the Tytus station it was because other areas of the city were seeing much more activity and needed additional EMS and Fire capacity to handle the increased work load. We looked at activity, runs times and the effect closing the station would have citywide. The short answer is that we will get to more people, faster, citywide by repositioning equipment and staff and by closing the Tytus Station.
Second, I have instructed Fire Administration to start updating a 2010 study on the optimum number and locations of fire stations in the City. Most of our Fire Stations are at least 40 years old and the city has grown to the highway in that time. Our current fire stations are not best positioned for the newer geographic layout of the city. When the study is completed this year, I’ll be working with Fire Administration to start looking at where we should relocate fire stations to best serve the city moving forward. My guess is that it will take several years to find the prime locations, purchase land, design stations and then finally build new Fire Stations. We are working on the process now and that is the best long term solution to the problem.
Third, the Post Treatment Center being proposed is a Post-Rehab facility to help addicts stay sober, get back to work, and to reconnect with their families. The Tytus fire house will be the last place that you will see heroin in the city. The residents will be drug tested. If the former addict relapses, they are kicked out of the house and back into rehab. If they bring users anywhere near the fire station, they will also be kicked out. The whole point of this facility is to provide a drug-free, safe area for the former addict to get back on his feet, get back to work, deal with any other mental health issues or medical issues and to leave behind the friends and poor influences that led to addiction in the first place. It will be staffed with experts 24/7 and will be operating in cooperation with MPD to swiftly and permanently deal with any misbehavior on or near the facility. Your Police Department supports this plan as one piece of many to start dealing with addiction in Middletown.
Fourth, the grants mentioned in the article are not the City’s grants. They are grants obtained by Butler County non-profits for this project through the State. We would govern the use and renovations of the fire house in our lease with the non-profit but it is not the City’s money being spent on this project to date.