Nashua marks one-year anniversary of Safe Stations programBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
November 17. 2017 8:16PM
NASHUA — Since the inception of Nashua’s Safe Stations program one year ago, 1,170 people have responded to a city fire station seeking help for substance misuse.
“Everything that we have done to date has been for the betterment of the community,” said Nashua Fire Rescue Chief Steven Galipeau.
It has been one year since the Gate City launched its Safe Stations initiative, which allows anyone seeking treatment or recovery from addiction to opioids or other substances to visit a city fire station at any time for help.
It was unclear at the start of the program exactly how many people would take advantage of the program, according to Galipeau, who said the fire department soon realized that welcoming strangers into its home may not be part of its traditional duties, but it was a vital step in helping so many in the community.
“Now we are trying to grow the process that we have,” Galipeau said during a one-year anniversary celebration on Friday at the Crown Hill fire station where several city leaders gathered to recognize the successful program — a collaborative effort between the fire department, police department, local hospitals, Harbor Homes and American Medical Response (AMR).
Since Safe Stations was launched last year, Nashua has seen a 24 percent drop in suspected opioid overdoses. Individuals from 13 cities and 74 towns have visited Nashua to access the program.
Currently, an average of five people a day seek treatment through the Safe Stations initiative in Nashua, according to officials.
“We are making a difference,” said Christopher Stawasz, regional director for AMR.
It has been a year of challenges and learning, according to Peter Kelleher of Harbor Homes.
The community has embraced the initiative, said Kelleher, pledging he will do all he can to reach out to those people who have already been through the Safe Stations program to ensure their continuous success.
With more than 800 arrests last year in Nashua, the police department is also stepping up to help curb the public health crisis.
“This is a clear example of each of us coming together to attack this problem,” Deputy Police Chief Denis Linehan said of Safe Stations.
His comments were echoed by Mayor Jim Donchess, who thanked all of the partners for assisting with the program and being committed to helping others on their road to recovery.
“But I believe and I know that we can do better,” said Donchess, noting a new initiative with Revive Recovery Resource Center, a new nonprofit group in Nashua.
Donchess is working to create a program that will provide peer recovery coaches for addicts, or those who have overdosed, essentially offering coaches for those individuals to help them with their treatment, guide them through the recovery process and act as a support network to help get them back on their feet.