Colonel Richardson Middle School recently hosted a presentation for students dealing with various aspects of the opioid crisis. Presenters were Jeff Ludwig, Emergency Management Planner with the Department of Emergency Services; Deputy William Bodnar, School Resource Officer and Caroline County Sheriff’s Office; Megan McLeod, paramedic with the Department of Emergency Services; Lori Cichocki, Opioid OD Prevention Liaison, Caroline County Health Department; and Bethany Smith, Peer Recovery Specialist, Caroline County Health Department.
Mr. Ludwig opened the presentation by encouraging students to think about their own community, and how the opioid crisis does not affect individuals exclusively but rather the entire community. He provided an overview of opioids and statistics in Caroline County, and explained that solving this crisis is possible through a community effort. He also explained the role of Emergency Management and how his profession works closely with EMS, Law Enforcement, and the Health Department.
Cpl. Bodner spoke with the students about Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law, and encouraged them to “do the right thing” when it comes to providing help to those in need.
Paramedic McLeod explained to students what happens when emergency services arrives on the scene of an overdose. She stressed that paramedics are only there to provide medical assistance to a patient, without regard for the cause of the distress. She also stressed that a person will never be in trouble for trying to help someone else.
Ms. Cichocki said she was speaking as a mom, a health department employee, and the sister of an addict. She shared her brother’s story and the impact on her family, and how it taught her that we all have to learn how to ask for help. She advised students to know where to turn for help, and said that the health department was a good source of information.
Ms. Smith shared what options are available to those in recovery from opioid addiction which are the I Wish I Knew (IWIK) text line, which connects with her as the Peer Recovery Specialist at the Health Department. She shared some of her story of being in recovery for the past 17 years. Ms. Smith assured the students that no one is alone and that they may reach out at any time.
The presenters conducted a candid question and answer period with students who were also invited to speak privately as needed after the assembly. Mr. Ludwig closed by saying that everyone is impacted by the opioid crisis in one way or another, and that it is important to keep empathy in the forefront of dealing with it.