Accept minimizing school casualties report
Two Contra Costa County Supervisors disagree with a key finding in a newly released Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report titled “The Opioid Crisis: Dying for Treatment” that reported in 2015-2016 over 100 county residents died from opioid overdoses.
Supervisors accepted the Grand Jury report as a consent item on a 4 to 0 vote. Board Chair Karen Mitchoff, who had won re-election to a new four-year term in last Tuesday’s election, was absent.
District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood and District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg said the actual number of deaths linked to opioid overdoses in 2015-2016 was lower. The two supervisors said there were 52 overdose deaths tied to opioids based on the information the supervisors received at a health conference that they attended last week.
Why the discrepancy? It is unclear.
Grand Jury Foreperson Mario Gutierrez told the Contra Costa Herald the Grand Jury collected its information from the Urban Institute and county senior healthcare officials in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Gutierrez says he and the grand jury backs up the statistic. “County deaths mirror the alarming trend and the national epidemic of misuse and abuse of opioids, particularly prescription painkillers,” the report states.
Gutierrez speculates the two supervisors may have received “partial or half-year opioid death count figures” for either the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 fiscal years. In both years, the opioid death tolls will exceed that of 2015-2016, Gutierrez predicted because that is the local and national trend with this drug crisis.
In May, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors joined 29 other county board of supervisors in suing 19 opioid manufacturers and three major distributors for creating an opioid epidemic in California. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement of taxpayer funds that have already been spent in reaction to the opioid epidemic in Contra Costa County related to ongoing costs of continuing the fight including emergency response, prevention, monitoring and treatment, and for prospective relief to help the county undo some of the widespread damage that opioid manufactures and distributors have caused.
“The Grand Jury also found that limited implementation, lack of funding, inadequate availability and insufficient accessibility in treatment being the least supported of the strategies. There are not enough programs in place to enable first responders to provide treatment immediately when sought. There is a need for on-demand treatment, but delays in access to medical care result in missed opportunities to reduce harm, and recovery, and prevent overdose deaths,” the report said.
“Based on its findings, the Grand Jury recommends that the County Board of Supervisors consider seeking funds for expansion of addiction treatment programs. The Board may also consider encouraging more medical care providers to become Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) certified, hire more MAT clinicians, provide in-county residential treatment facilities for adolescents, and place more certified professional addiction clinicians within the county’s three detention facilities. The Grand Jury also recommends that the Contra Costa County Office of Education consider making overdose antidotes in public high schools.”
The supervisors have 60 days to respond to the Grand Jury’s recommendations. The Contra Costa County Office of Education has 90 days to respond to the Grand Jury’s recommendation that the CCCOE seek funds for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to provide free NARCAN kits in all county school districts.
Supervisors Accept Minimizing School Casualties Report
Supervisors also approved as a consent item another grand jury report entitled Minimizing School Casualties During an Active Shooter Incident.
While acknowledging “No active shooting incidents have occurred on school campuses in Contra Costa County, The Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury conducted an investigation to determine what preparations law enforcement agencies have made to respond to such an incident in the county, should one occur. The Grand Jury reviewed current practices of County law enforcement and paramedics serving the County. The investigation focused on high schools, where most school shootings have occurred.’’
The Grand Jury report was drafted at a time when 148 students and teachers had been killed and 310 wounded during 240 school shootings nationwide.
During the Grand Jury’s investigation, it surveyed the Acalanes Union High School District’s four high schools, at one of which local police ran an active shoot exercise. “Although most teachers and students have received verbal guidance on dealing with an armed classroom intruder, they have not received specific written instructions developed jointly by the AUHSD and the local policy,” the Grand Jury report stated.
In addition, the report states: “The Grand Jury recommends that the County Board of Supervisors consider seeking funds to finance ballistic protection for Fire District paramedics. The Grand Jury further recommends that the BOS continue funding the County Sheriff’s Office active shooter training program for paramedics and law enforcement. In addition, the Grand Jury recommends that the Acalanes Unified High School District Governing Board consider requiring its four high schools to work directly with local police to develop and implement specific written guidelines for teachers and students on how to handle classroom break-ins by an active shooter.”
The supervisors have 60 days to respond to the Grand Jury’s recommendations.