The opioid crisis is tearing apart local families and pushing resources to their limits.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department transported 3,686 overdose patients in 2017 alone.
The anti-overdose drug naloxone counted for 7 percent of the department's budget.
Action News Jax's Courtney Cole takes a deeper look at the Jacksonville’s pilot project's mission to save lives.
The opioid epidemic doesn't discriminate by age, race or ZIP code.
"First responders said, 'I’ve been in everything from oceanfront houses to shacks and everything in between.' It’s all over the city,” said City Councilman Bill Gulliford, who represents District 13 in Jacksonville.
Gulliford joined the opioid epidemic special committee last year, and says he was overwhelmed by the pervasiveness of this drug.
Shortly after the committee was created in November 2017, it started a six-month pilot project started called Project Save Lives.
The city of Jacksonville works with River Region Human Services, Gateway Community Services and St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside to treat opioid addiction and misuse.
“I think, if we save human lives, there’s no greater success. There’s no greater satisfaction than doing something that saves lives,” Gulliford told Action News Jax.
And that’s exactly what this program is doing so far. Gulliford said 63 people have been treated since the program began.
Brittany is one of them.
The 30-year-old from Nassau County said she took her first opioid in her teens, when she stole her mother's medication after back surgery.
"I needed a group of people. I needed support. When I got to Gateway, it just felt like, inside of me, I knew I needed to come here," Brittany said.
Now, she feels that she has her life back again.
Gulliford says it's his hope that the program will continue beyond May 2018, to help more people who are fighting addiction get back to feeling like themselves.
"My ultimate goal, what I would really desire, would be to see it in every emergency room in the city. That’s where we’re going to try and head," he said.
The City Council approved $1.4 million to fund the program through May 2018.
But right now, the city is working with a legal team and plans to file a lawsuit against the companies who make the painkillers, in hopes of using some of the money to compensate Jacksonville for the cost.
Cox Media Group