Buncombe County’s EMS is hoping to decrease opioid-related deaths and increase rehab enrollment as it looks to expand the Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program. On Nov. 2, Emergency Services Director Taylor Jones outlined how a $500,000 grant from the Dogwood Health Trust Alliance would bolster the County’s opioid response efforts. In particular, it would allow for an additional MAT team, one Community Paramedic team, recovery support resources, and more.
Buncombe County’s Community Paramedicine initiative started as a pilot program aimed at providing long-term solutions for 911 calls involving an overdose, addiction-based needs, and other times resources outside of immediate medical attention are needed. Since inception, data from Emergency Services shows a 5% decrease in overdoses in Buncombe County.
“It’s tremendous there is this decrease in overdoses in Buncombe County, and in so many other places it’s heading in other direction,” noted Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara. “I think we are starting to see the impact of investments and the priority placed on this.”
Growing this initiative will help provide additional services for community members struggling with addiction and is part of Buncombe County’s 2025 Strategic Plan. The $500,000 grant would be used for the following:
- One Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) team and one Peer Support Recovery Supervisor position.
- One Community Paramedic team, which will allow for 24-hour coverage, seven days a week.
- One peer-support lead supervisor to coordinate with nonprofits performing peer support in our community.
- Allows for $100,000 for community nonprofit-lead peer support.
- Start-up equipment costs and six months of MAT in partnership with MAHEC.
Buncombe County Emergency Services anticipates these additions to helping decrease opioid deaths and increase rehab enrollment. Commissioners will vote on approving the grant on Nov. 16. To learn more about the County’s Community Paramedicine program, watch this video.