Repeat overdoses down by 71% in Project Save Lives Patients, JFRD says

Leaders praise decrease in opioid numbers, but say there's more to do

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Numbers from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department show fewer people in the City of Jacksonville’s “Project Save Lives” program experienced repeat overdoses from 2017 to 2018.

Alexandra Porter, a Certified Recovery Peer Specialist for Project Save Lives, tells Action News Jax she knows what it’s like to be down and out.

“I was addicted to opiates for about five years,” said Porter.  “I’ve been clean for about nine and a half years now. I’ve lost a lot of people to overdoses.”

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She tells us she’s one of many Peer Specialists who know what it’s like to be in an addict’s shoes and says that’s why they’re able to connect with patients in ways other medical staff can’t.

“It’s very, very, different than having actually lived what the patient is experiencing,” said Porter.

According to JFRD, from 2017 to 2018, there was “… a 71 percent decrease in overdose-related responses to participants who accepted services from Project Save Lives … ”

JFRD says patients gave their permission for recidivism to be tracked.

We’re also getting a glimpse into the number of overdose patients Project Saves Lives has seen since its launch in 2017.

From November 16, 2017, through May 31, 2019, JFRD says 606 total patients were eligible for the program. Of those, 12 died prior to receiving services, and 210 declined services.

JFRD says the remaining 384 accepted services. At the time the data was collected, 183 were actively using services, 158 had completed the program, 41 disengaged from services and two people had died by opioids.

JFRD also provided a breakdown of where overdoses happened by property type from June 2018 to May 2019.

According to the data, about 800 happened in homes, while almost 300 happened on “Streets/Highways.”

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While discussing this data, Councilman Bill Gulliford tells Action News Jax first responders are seeing overdose cases happen behind the wheel. He tells us some of these cases have resulted in crashes.

“There are a lot of innocent people that are exposed to potential harm,” said Gulliford.

As of now, Project Save Lives is providing services at four Jacksonville emergency rooms, including, St. Vincent’s Riverside, St. Vincent’s Southside, Memorial Hospital and Park West.

Leaders say they’re working to expand into other hospitals, which could include Jacksonville’s Northside.