This story originally appeared on nbc12.com
The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts issued the first ‘spike alert’ through the Richmond-Metro Spike Alert system over the weekend.
The alert is a system that notifies the general public when spikes in opioid overdoses occur. The system was established through the RRHD, Chesterfield Health District, Henrico Health District, and the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA), which measures opioid overdose in their respective areas.
The importance of this program was highlighted by significant increases in overdoses over the past few years. Over 430 overdose deaths were reported in 2020 across the City of Richmond and Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover counties; this represents a 40% increase from 2019.
According to Cat Long with RHHD, the system launched last month after a recent increase in overdoses.
Major Chad Greedan with the RAA says the alerts aren’t just helpful in letting the public know when the overdoses occur but also how powerful the drugs entering the community may be.
“It’s alerting the public that there is a dangerous amount or dangerous potency of an opioid out there, to better watch for signs and symptoms of someone who’s suffering from an overdose,” Greedan said.
You can sign up to get the alerts on your phone, but you can also sign up to receive them through Facebook, Twitter, or email if you don’t like that. When a spike is observed, the RHHD will issue an alert to individuals who are signed up.
“Informing individuals that may use opioids and their loved ones of a recent spike may prevent injury and death. So, the more information we get out to our communities – since we know this is an epidemic that impacts many communities – the better,” Long said.
Individuals who are interested in receiving spike alerts should sign up HERE.
“These alerts only come during a spike, so we hope that they won’t come too often,” Long said. “It only takes a few seconds to sign up by our email, and those few seconds can save your or someone else’s life.”