Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityColumbus City Council approves additional $98k for RREACT, addressing opioid epidemic | WTTE
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Columbus City Council continues funding for RREACT, addressing opioid epidemic

Columbus City Council continues funding for RREACT, addressing opioid epidemic. (WSYX)
Columbus City Council continues funding for RREACT, addressing opioid epidemic. (WSYX)
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Columbus City Council approved an increase and modification to a current contract Monday related to the Rapid Response Emergency Addition Crisis Team. (RREACT)

RREACT is an innovative outreach service operated by the Columbus Division of Fire to actively address the opioid crisis negatively impacting Columbus residents. The program is a collaboration between EMS personnel, CPD officers, social workers, and treatment facilities to combat the ongoing opioid crisis while building relationships with opioid users.

On Monday, city council unanimously approved $98,669.77 from the General Government Grants Fund to allow RREACT services to continue through the remainder of 2022.

"It’s been an epidemic across this country, but nowhere more sincerely than Columbus," Council member Emmanuel Remy, who sponsored the ordinance, said. "We need to make sure we are putting all the available resources in to fight this battle. This type of partnership is something that we need to continue to support."

Columbus resident John Gerlach said he's been sober since 2014, but the date could have been earlier if certain services like RREACT were offered to him.

"They didn’t have these kinds of programs back then," Gerlach said. "I would show up to the hospital, someone came from behavioral services and I gave them the same song and dance of 'Yes, I'll go get help,' They gave me the nod and the stamp and I went on."

In 2010, Gerlach described an accidental overdose that could have ended his life.

"I was caught mixing different drugs and drinking," he said. "I lost consciousness and was alone. Some of my coworkers came looking for me after they didn’t see me for a few days. My parents didn’t know where I was, I wasn’t answering my phone. Some firefighters eventually came to the door, busted in the door and were able to revive me."

But even after those firefighters saved his life, Gerlach said he didn't immediately get onto the right path. He said the road to recovery takes support, accountability and follow-up.

"The RREACT program goes a little bit further," Gerlach said. "They follow up."

He said RREACT helps patients by connecting with them from the beginning, but not forgetting about them months down the road.

"I give RREACT a lot of credit for being there at the first, most sensitive times," he said. "They get there right at the crucial time and say, aren’t you done? Let alone hurting your family and friends. But aren’t you going to give yourself a break?"

He said his sobriety date, which is June 16, 2014, but wondered how things may be different if RREACT excited as he was hitting rock bottom.

"If RREACT would have shown up, I might have questioned myself," Gerlach said. "Hey look, you’re either going to get busy living or get busy dying."

Gerlach said the firefighters who saved his life, are still in his life. Part of REEACT's services allows people on the road to recovery a chance to honor the people who played a role in saving their lives.

RELATED | Recovery community thanks the EMS personnel who saved their lives

"If it wasn’t for them giving me a second chance, I wouldn’t have the family friends, coworkers, the job or the desk I’m sitting at right now," Gerlach said.

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The money approved by city council on Monday is General Grant Funds and would help fund RREACT through the end of 2022. Remy said a new contract would be drafted using CDC grant money that would carry RREACT services through 2023.

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