SEATTLE — Seattle's first responders already have been called to more overdoses in 2023 than the department handled in all of 2022, Seattle Fire Department (SFD) Chief Harold Scoggins revealed at a press conference Tuesday.
Scoggins said SFD has been called to over 4,000 overdoses so far this year, as opposed to just over 3,700 overdoses in 2022.
The increase is even more stark when considering that the department responded to roughly 1,700 overdoses in 2021, per Scoggins.
The data was revealed during a press conference updating the progress of Health 99, which is a pilot program aimed at providing more opportunities for follow-up outreach services for individuals who have experienced an overdose in the city.
The unit dispatches a firefighter/EMT and a Human Services Department case worker and operates from Monday to Thursday between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Since the pilot program launched on July 7, the unit has responded to 68 overdoses and had 20 client outreach visits. A total of 52 individuals have received services of some kind from the Health 99 team.
Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold announced Tuesday she is hearing legislation in her Public Safety and Human Services Committee next week. The legislation would appropriate part of Mayor Bruce Harrell's $27 million executive order in April to support an overdose recovery center "so Health 99 has a location to take people after non-fatal overdoses to recover, get stabilized on medications, and access resources.”
“Seattle firefighter/EMTs and paramedics are responding to approximately 103 suspected overdose and related emergency calls per week throughout the City," said Scoggins. "We immediately provide emergency medical services once personnel arrive on scene to help save the lives of those who overdose. With the new post-overdose response unit, we can now expand our impact by connecting or reestablishing patients with services to get them on the right path for addiction treatment."