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Pinkerton students told they can help end the state's opioid abuse

Union Leader Correspondent

April 21. 2017 12:06AM

DERRY — Manchester Emergency Medical Response Officer Chris Hickey spoke to students at Pinkerton academy Wednesday morning about the opioid epidemic and their generation’s ability to end it.

Hickey showed students the gruesome side of opioid use through pictures and personal accounts from his years responding to overdoes victims. He believes that through educating the public about drugs and their effects, the problem can be diminished.

“This is the generation that is going to make the difference,” said Hickey.

Hickey created the Safe Stations program last year, which turns any one of the 10 Manchester firehouses into a haven for addicts looking for help.

The firehouses are able to provide intake assessments and get patients ready for in-patient or out-patient treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. The concept is built on a trust within the community that people seeking help are not labeled criminals and instead given medical care.

“We have a 19-year-old kid who has been in nine times. It’s going to stick because each time he comes he stays longer and longer,” said Hickey.

Education around drug addiction and its affects on people’s well-being is important to Hickey. He said that addressing the problem in schools, at work and in law enforcement will curb the crisis more than criminalizing the addicts behavior.

“This stigma of being a big, bad thing is finally starting to go away,” said Hickey.

Many of the students at the talk were part of Pinkerton’s HOSA-Future Health Professionals program. The students will be looking at careers in the health or emergency response industries and will be facing many of the problems created by the opioid crisis, according to HOSA Advisor Derek Earle.

“We can’t hide from it, not one person,” said Earle.

Mike Jellison, a senior HOSA member, said his generation is more equipped to deal with addiction because they are more exposed to it.

“I think it’s informative. It helps kids know that this is a problem not with just bad people but everybody,” said Jellison

Jellison wants to be a medic in the Army and embracing the troubling opioid crisis does not intimidate him.

“I want to help people because it’s terrible when it affects someone,” said Jellison.

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