Highlights from OIT Promising Practices Swap and Share

Every seat in the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center conference room was filled for the Opioid Operational Command Center’s Opioid Intervention Team (OIT) Promising Practices Swap & Share held on Thursday, December 14, 2017.

Attendees from OIT teams from across the state were eager to learn from their peers and to share their own promising practices for tackling the opioid epidemic. Here are some highlights:

Opening Remarks

Counterclockwise from top: Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dennis Schrader, Maryland Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Russell Strickland, MACo Associate Director Natasha Mehu.
Counterclockwise from top: Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dennis Schrader, Maryland Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Russell Strickland, MACo Associate Director Natasha Mehu.

Baltimore City’s LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) Program

This pilot program is a partnership between law enforcement and behavioral health providers  to divert low-level drug offenders into treatment and support services instead of prosecution and jail. Officers bring low-level offenders  a LEAD case manager to connect them with services instead of arresting them and taking them to jail.

Clay Stamp, Executive Director of the Opioid Operational Command Center delivering remarks. (photo courtesy Before It's Too Late)
Clay Stamp, Executive Director of the Opioid Operational Command Center delivering remarks. (photo courtesy Before It’s Too Late)

Wicomico County’s COAT (Community Outreach Addiction Team) Program

The COAT program uses peer support specialists to identify individuals in need of education and outreach and to serve as a bridge to treatment services. Designated as a Promising Practice from NACCHO (National Association of City and County Health Officers) COAT has a $1:$6.66 return on investment.

Anne Arundel County’s Safe Stations and Mobile Crisis Teams

This initiative provides individuals suffering from addiction a means to get 24/7 walk-in assistance at police and fire stations across the county. Since the inception of the Safe Station program on April 20, 2017, through November 30, 2017, there have been 373 assessments and a 62% success rate of individuals completing treatment.

St. Mary’s County and Cumberland City’s Emergency Petitions

These two jurisdictions have programs in which law enforcement officers can file a petition for emergency
evaluation for possible involuntary hospitalization after reviving an individual from an overdose. They have worked closely with their attorneys to overcome legal concerns, and continue to work to address challenges with hospital data and protocols.

Tyrone Roper from Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore discusses the City's LEAD pilot program.
Tyrone Roper from Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore discusses the City’s LEAD pilot program.

Bon Secours’ Hospital Emergency Department Overdose Services

Their services include a process for screening and scoring individuals admitted to the emergency room for withdrawal symptoms. These individuals can be referred to peer coaches and recommended to doctors as a good candidate for suboxone. The initial dose can be prescribed in the emergency room to help the patient until they can be connected with treatment services the next day.

Howard County’s Correctional Facility Treatment and Transition from Incarceration 

To meet the challenges of addressing opioid addiction Howard County is using SBIRT in their jails. The process and services have been tailored to meet the needs of a population of individuals who are difficult to treat because of the short time periods they spend in jail  — 30% leave within one day and 70% within thirty days.

Jillian Beach, a family member impacted by the opioid crisis with Lieutenant Governor Rutherford and County Executive Kittleman. (photo courtesy Before It's Too Late)
Jillian Beach, a family member impacted by the opioid crisis with Lieutenant Governor Rutherford and County Executive Kittleman. (photo courtesy Before It’s Too Late)

Washington County’s Day Reporting Center

The first of its kind in Maryland, the center was five years in the making and came to fruition with the help of the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force and funding through GOCCP.  There are currently looking to expand the program to include in house mental health services and the pre-trial population.

Baltimore City’s Needle Exchange Program and Overdose and Rapid Detection Efforts

The City’s needle exchange program was the first in the state. The program seeks to reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C by providing clean syringes. Individuals are also linked to treatment services and provided with overdose response training. Through the City’s overdose and rapid detection effort people can receive email and text alerts about regions where responders are seeing particularly lethal batches of drugs to help them avoid those bad batches. The regions are broad so that it can’t be used as a tool for finding dealers.

Baltimore/Washington HIDTA’s Overdose Detection (OD) Map

OD map was launched a year ago with Anne Arundel County being one of the first in the nation to get on board. The map is now live in 23 states and is a vital tool for cross jurisdictional sharing of overdose and nonfatal overdose information (including location, drug types, and victim demographics).

Eric Robey from the Harford County Sheriff's Office presents on H.O.P.E House.
Eric Robey from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office presents on H.O.P.E House.

Kent County’s LDAAC and Whitsitt Center Crisis Stabilization, Detox, and Case Management

The county’s Local Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council (LDAAC) has focused its efforts on the gaps of services to the family of those suffering from addiction. Peer specialists take a unique proactive approach of going out to the individual and their family rather than waiting for them to reach out for help.

Carroll County’s Integrated Behavioral Health, Substance Use Treatment, Resource Support, and Case Management Program

This unique partnership of public and private health services was first established in 2005. They now offer fully integrated care (primary care, behavioral health, dental) all under one roof and follow a strong no wrong door policy.

Talbot County’s Project Purple Campaign

In September Talbot went purple to take a stand against drug abuse. During that month there were 122 speaking engagements, 7,000 people spoken to, and 27 news paper articles written covering prevention, recovery and everything in between.

Harford County’s H.O.P.E. House

This mobile trailer of a mock bed and bathroom contains 50 hidden items of drugs and paraphernalia. Small groups of parents walk through trying to find the items and learning about signs to look for in the process. The trailer has been to 26 events since the ribbon was cut in September, including the 2017 the MACo Winter Conference.

OIT Swap and Share Spotlights Promising Practices from Across the State

Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) hosted an Opioid Intervention Team (OIT) Promising Practices Swap & Share providing an important platform for OIT teams from counties across the state to share best practices and lessons learned in the fight against the opioid crisis.

Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford delivering welcoming remarks at the OIT Promising Practices Swap & Share.
Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford delivering welcoming remarks at the OIT Promising Practices Swap & Share.

OIT teams are multi-agency bodies established in each county and led by the county’s emergency manager and health officer to coordinate local opioid response efforts and integrate with statewide efforts.

Welcoming remarks were provided by Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford.

“It’s at the local level – in neighborhoods, in schools, in places of worship – where we all are making the biggest impact in fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic,” he said. “Individually, you are changing your communities, but by working together even more and by replicating what you learn today in your own neighborhoods, just think about how we can change our state and its future.”

The Lieutenant Governor’s remarks were followed by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader, Maryland Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Russell J. Strickland, and Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Associate Director Natasha Mehu.

Clay Stamp, Executive Director of the OOCC, and Birch Barron, Deputy Director of the OOCC, served as M.C.’s for the day.

“Every day, we are making progress by eliminating stigma in our communities. We’re talking more so that those who need help can come forward and ask for it. We’re encouraging safe disposal of unused medications through drug takeback programs, and we’re seeing treatment expand,” said Clay Stamp, executive director, Opioid Operational Command Center. “While we have to acknowledge the devastating effects of this crisis, we cannot forget that we are seeing momentum build all across the state.”

Before delving into a jammed pack agenda of promising practices, attendees heard from Jillian Beach who shared her story as a family member impacted by the opioid crisis.

The presentations covered a broad range of practices from a diverse set of jurisdictions. Some highlighted programs that were spearheaded by public safety agencies and others by public health. But all harped on the importance of collaboration, information sharing, and bringing key partners together to achieve success and overcome challenges. Audience members left with much information they could take back to their jurisdictions.

The event was held Thursday, December 14, 2017 at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center in Howard County. MACo was a sponsors of the event.

For more information:

Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center Hosts Opioid Intervention Team Swap & Share (OOCC press release)

Before It’s Too Late  – Maryland’s statewide effort to bring awareness to the heroin and opioid crisis and to mobilize resources for effective prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Saving Lives at #MACoCon

Attendees to the 2017 MACo Winter Conference learned critical first aid skills during the “‘Stayin’ Alive’ – Learn to Save a Life with Naloxone Training for Opioid Overdoses and Hands-Only CPR” panel on December 7.

Hands-Only CPR Training

Participants first learned hands-only CPR and related first aid on training dummies. The CPR training was provided by a qualified life guard employed by the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake. Participants then learned how to administer Naloxone to someone who has overdosed on opioids and tend to that person until help arrives. The Naloxone training was conducted by Charles County Health Officer Dianna Abney.

The HOPE House

Finally, representatives from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office gave a brief overview of their Heroin Overdose Prevention Effort (HOPE) House, which was on display for conference attendees. The HOPE House is a trailer that duplicates a young person’s bedroom and bathroom and teaches people to recognize signs that suggest the young person is using drugs. The HOPE House is a mobile education tool, targeting the heroin epidemic, conceived by the HOPE Workgroup, a partnership between Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler and members of the Harford County Community.

Washington County Prepares for Next Generation 9-1-1

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) issues are of top concern for county governments officials seeking to improve and enhance their handling of emergency calls from cell phone users.

NG911 will enable the public to make voice, text, or video calls from any communications device via Internet Protocol-based networks. Linked call centers will also be able to share resources like GIS (Geographic Information System) databases rather than each having to purchase their own. These capabilities can make public safety both more effective and more responsive.

While the technology to implement NG911 is available now, there are many issues that local governments must work through, including uniform specifications, the process of transition, governance, and funding. In Washington County, local government officials are in the process of updating addresses and reviewing geographic boundaries, all in an effort to prepare for NG911.

According to Herald-Mail Media,

Local planning is part of a nationwide effort to bring 911 up to the “next level of technology,” said Bud Gudmundson, the county’s GIS manager.

GIS coordinates will provide more accurate location information, including vertical coordinates. Location information won’t have to be tied to an actual address. That will help dispatchers identify locations whether someone is on the side of a road or in a field, which will help with search-and-rescue efforts, Fischer said.

Local officials are wrestling with the problem of the boundary between Washington and Frederick counties for a few reasons.

The boundary line is along South Mountain and hasn’t been surveyed since 1824, Gudmundson said. There are few, if any, markers along the line showing that boundary.

Another issue: Some addresses will need to be corrected.

The county’s planning department is the addressing authority for unincorporated areas in the county. Hagerstown handles its addressing and the smaller towns handle theirs.

Hagerstown has been good about checking with the county about addresses and Gudmondson said he doesn’t foresee the county taking over what the city is doing.

However, the county is going to ask the smaller towns if the county can take over addressing authority for them, for the “sake of consistency and accuracy.”

MACo has adopted advancing Maryland Next-Generation 9-1-1 systems as one of four 2018 Legislative Initiatives.

Advancing Maryland Next-Generation 9-1-1 Systems

Maryland citizens demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows. Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers. MACo urges a concerted statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing the expertise and needs of front-line county managers.

Click here to learn more about MACo’s 2018 Legislative Initiatives.

Panel Highlights Successful Collaborations by County Corrections at #MACoCon

At 2017 MACo Winter Conference session “No Jail is an Island” audience members learned about the partnerships local jails have generated to provide comprehensive and successful programs behind the walls and within the communities inmates will return to.

From left to right: Council Member Jennifer Williams, George Kaloroumakis
From left to right: Council Member Jennifer Williams, George Kaloroumakis

George Kaloroumakis, Director of the Wicomico County Department of Corrections put it best that local jails were like “a community within a community, with the same structure as a small municipality.” Kaloroumakis set the stage by providing an overview of  the array of services and programs local jails offer in collaboration with state, local, and community entities for the roughly 9,138 inmates in the county jails. He noted that about 60% of that population are known to mental health providers and over 85% have a substance abuse issue.

Guy Merritt, Chief of Community Corrections for the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections discussed the importance of understanding where people are going for help and how they are receiving it before reaching out to potential partners to address gaps in services. Merritt presented specifically about how Prince George’s County is creating a service umbrella by working through MOUs to better share info with other county agencies that provide public safety, health, housing, human services. The jail’s biggest collaborators include the department of social services and the local health department.

Russell Wright, Ordinance Road Correctional Center Education Liaison and Anne Arundel Community College Corrections Education Coordinator, spoke about the Success Through Education Program (STEP). STEP is a collaboration between Anne Arundel Community College and Anne Arundel County Department of Detention Facilities to provide inmates with academics, workforce development, life-skills, and computer literacy to help inmates return to their communities as productive members of society. Participants receive one day off their sentence for every day successfully spent in class. This intense (teachers spend 90% of their time with 90% of the students) and fast-paced program (5 week sessions) has generated 924 GEDs.

This session moderated by Talbot County Council President Jennifer Williams and held on Wednesday, December 7. The MACo Winter Conference was held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme was  “The Power of Partnership.”

What NG911 Means For County Purchasers & Purse Strings

At the MACo Winter Conference special session, Next Gen 911: What It Means Forimg_0612 Purchasers, PSAPs & Purse Strings, State and local experts provided a thorough overview of the anticipated costs and procurement opportunities accompanying the requirement for county call centers to advance to Next Generation 9-1-1.

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) issues are of top concern for county governments officials seeking to improve and enhance their handling of emergency calls from cell phone users. New technologies will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow traditional callers to text and send photo and video data directly to first responders.

As Maryland and its counties move toward implementing an NG911 network, one key issue that must be addressed is how to fill the void left by Verizon and its vast communication infrastructure. And, while the technology to implement NG911 is available now, there are many issues that local governments must work through, including uniform specifications, the process of transition, governance, and funding.

At the presentation, Scott Roper, Executive Director of the Emergency Number Systems Board provided introductory remarks, followed by his office’s consultant, Walt Kaplan, MPH, Enterprise Client Manager, Mission Critical Partners, Inc. Ross Coates, Harford County Government Public Safety Manager rounded out the presentation by offering the local government perspective, providing observations informed by his county’s procurement officer and fiscal experts. The Honorable Cheryl Kagan, State Senator with a vested, proven interested in NG911 issues, enthusiastically moderated the panel.

Shooter Defense “Deep Dive” Enthralls 70+ at #MACoCon

DFC Thomas Wehrle

At the MACo Winter Conference session, Active Shooter Defense: What You Need to Know, on Wednesday, December 6 at 10 am, a packed room of early conference attendees sat on the edges of their seats as Deputy First Class Thomas Wehrle of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office taught them the ropes of how to respond in an active shooter crisis. The take-away: run, hide, or, if you must, fight.

Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. While an active shooter scenario may unfold in various locations, public and government settings are particular targets. These terrifying events are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, so individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to survive the situation before law enforcement arrives.


The Honorable James “Capt Jim” McMahan, Jr., Council Member, Harford County moderated the session – which began with his eloquent introduction, interrupted by two loud bangs and Capt Jim collapsing to the ground. The role play ensured that the 70-plus attendees paid attention throughout the rest of the deep dive session.



In an Emergency, There’s No Time For Questions

In “What Is Emergency Management?”…and Other Mysteries Revealed, a MACo Winter Conference Session hosted by the Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers, state and county experts engaged the audience while answering definitional questions about the professional emergency management field.

State and county emergency managers reveal today’s emergency management as a changing industry that is critical for local elected officials to understand.

Russell J. Strickland, Maryland Emergency Management Agency Executive Director, gave an overview of the year-round process of preparation, training, testing, and revision that comprises emergency management.

Strickland shared how emergency management is a growing and fast-changing field, where one of the top priorities today is disaster risk reduction as opposed to the more traditional response and recovery responsibilities.

Earl Stoddard, PhD, MPH, CEM, Director of the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, shared how if resources are deployed in the best way, local governments can save costs.

Stoddard described the push for an integration of emergency management principles into all types of local infrastructure projects. These early processes and investments could prevent larger costs down the road. Elected officials, however, are key to make the connections between emergency managers and the county planning and design agencies building new projects.

Stoddard also shared the importance of working with elected officials to make sure that there is an exchange of information to ensure communication with the community.

Rumors have transformed the field of emergency management. –Earl Stoddard, PhD, MPH, CEM, Director of the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Douglas Brown, Carroll County Emergency Manager, and Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers President, shared his tools for ensuring that county officials are able to provide leadership to save lives, mobilize a response, and ensure a quick recovery when disaster strikes. He described the Emergency Management 101 courses that he uses to educate his county government partners.

On community expectations, Brown shared how food, shower, and a place to sleep are no longer the top three demands of residents seeking shelter. In his community, WIFI, a place to plug in a phone or device, and a place to bring a pet are requests he receives.

Strickland described the need to share situational awareness when speaking with elected officials, and shared that studies have shown that the chief elected official is the best one to share periodic status updates and directions to the residents.

For more information about county emergency management and opportunities for education, contact Robin Eilenberg, liaison to the Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers.

How Counties Find Calm in the Eye of the Storm

In Eye of the Storm: Preparations & Partnerships, a MACo Winter Conference session co-hosted by the Maryland Association of County Administrators and the Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman moderated a discussion of how partnerships can help when disaster strikes.

Webster shares the extensive work of the DELMARVA Emergency Task Force on hurricane preparedness.

County Executive Kittleman, who is speaking on another panel about the Ellicott City disaster, opened the discussion and asked presenters to speak about not only partnerships, but also emergency preparations they found helpful.

Fred Webster, Worcester County Emergency Services Director and Chair, DELMARVA Emergency Task Force, described how Maryland partners with neighboring states as a member and leader of the  Delmarva Emergency Task Force.

Partners of the DELMARVA Emergency Task Force reach far beyond emergency management agencies, including:

  • health departments and hospitals
  • private sector, such as energy providers
  • entities independent of state and local government, including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Commission
Haas reflects on the destruction caused by the Queen Anne’s County tornado.

Scott Haas, Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services Director shared how the County drew on its existing partnerships to respond to a tornado.

Haas shared a video developed by Queen Anne’s County. The video described the devastation of the EF 2 Tornado that hit Bay City and other areas in Queen Anne’s County.

The partners involved in the response and recovery numbered 58. Some of them included:

  • Animal Welfare league
  • Red Cross
  • State Police
  • Volunteer Firefighters
  • Emergency Services
  • Public Safety Teams
  • Delmarva Power
  • 20 mutual aid fire and EMS companies

What partnerships are in place in your county? To be in touch with your local emergency manager about preparedness efforts, see the contact information provided by The Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers.




Public Safety, Voter Registration Among ACLU of Maryland 2018 Priorities





Representatives from MACo and the ACLU of Maryland meet on November 27, 2017, to discuss their respective legislative initiatives for the 2018 Session. A 2018 Session Priorities Handout provided by ACLU Maryland identified six key issues that the organization will focus on:

  1. Election Day Registration (allow voters to register and vote on the same day)
  2. Pre-Trial Justice (preserve existing judicial rules that disfavors cash bail, prohibits unaffordable bail requirements, and prevents bail from being used for public safety)
  3. Taking the Politics Out of Parole (remove the Governor’s role in the parole determination process)
  4. Solitary Confinement (“Restrictive Housing”) Reform (reform the usage and duration of administrative or disciplinary segregation of inmates and mentally ill detainees)
  5. Criminal Justice Reporting (create a task force, including local government representation, that would standardize how race and ethnicity is reported in public safety situations)
  6. Public Funding of Private and Religious Schools (restrict the use of public monies for funding private schools)

The sheet listed a number of secondary issues, such as access to justice and transparency, where the ACLU of Maryland will be active during the 2018 Session. The ACLU of Maryland will certainly take a position on MACo’s Public Information Act (PIA) reform initiative. The group opposed MACo’s PIA body camera initiative in 2016 and 2017 but has worked with MACo on other issues.

ACLU Maryland 2018 Session Priorities Handout

ACLU of Maryland Website