Sherief Moustafa, Chief Executive Officer of the Florida House Experience, commends the first responders called to the New Haven Green in historic New Haven, Connecticut. The event is likely the largest mass overdose in state history with more than 70 victims in a 24-hour period, several of those suffering from life-threatening conditions.
“When firefighters, EMTs, police officers, hospital and emergency management staff face the deadly effects of fentanyl on the citizens they aim to protect, they are personally impacted. At times, firefighters and other first responders experience ‘compassionate care fatigue’ and are rotated in and out of service” says Moustafa, whose neuroscience program has a dedicated track for first responders as they battle addiction and behavioral health issues linked to their profession. According to Moustafa, an RN with 30 years of experience in mental health and substance abuse treatment, “The battle isn’t only professional, our men and women called to serve on the front lines of this epidemic absorb the complexity of the crisis-driven incidents they respond to.”
The focus of the crisis this week is K2 or synthetic marijuana. However, the chemical lacing the illicit drug has become well-known during the opioid epidemic, Fentanyl. Synthetic marijuana is so dangerous in part because of unverified chemicals used during the illicit production. Users often do not know what chemicals or quantity they are ingesting, and the chemists manufacturing the product do not care. When laced with the powerful and deadly synthetic opioid Fentanyl, disaster is imminent. Moustafa, despite holding advanced addiction credentials and experience managing a 200-bed substance abuse and mental health facility, stated he has never seen as much potential for tragedy as we have all witnessed today. The expertise and dedication of the first responders have, so far, prevented any fatalities from this incident, but the impact on the victims and healthcare workers will remain. This pandemic must be treated, otherwise, today is just a small glimpse of what tomorrow and every day might look like
“We grieve for the citizens who were affected medically, yet we also concern ourselves with those wearing badges, uniforms, and stethoscopes.” The CEO says. “PTSD is a very real diagnosis in the first responder community, particularly when there are mass casualties and injuries.”
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