By Mike Pettinella
Deaths from drug overdoses, many of them involving fentanyl, are on the rise, and all neighborhoods – urban and rural – are at risk.
Officials of public safety agencies and the health department in Genesee County say they are united in their effort to provide the support needed to those struggling with substance use disorder through the Public Safety Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative.
“The City of Batavia Police Department is determined to do our part in the fight against the opioid epidemic in our city and region,” Chief Shawn Heubusch said. “To that end we continue to partner with the GOW Opioid Task Force to support programs such as PAARI, where anyone suffering from addiction can come to our department, any time day or night, and get connected to a professional for assistance.”
The Genesee County sheriff, Le Roy Police chief, City of Batavia fire chief and Genesee County public health director echoed Heubusch’s sentiments – with each official affirming their agency’s participation in PAARI.
PAARI is a valuable partnership between local public safety agencies, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and the Genesee County Health Department. This resource is available so that residents who are suffering from substance use and want to seek help, can access a safe place in the community at all hours, without judgment or legal implications.
“The PAARI program provides residents with the support that they need when they are ready to seek help and treatment,” Public Health Director Paul Pettit said. “Our partners are trustworthy, compassionate people who want to get our residents that are struggling the help that they need and connect them to the resources available.
“We know that the holidays can be a difficult time for some, but know that you are not alone. There are people in the community that care about you and want to help you.”
Pettit said that 15 Genesee County residents died from an overdose in 2020, and in almost all of those cases fentanyl was involved.
“Since then, at least 17 additional community residents have died from an opioid overdose,” he added.
Sheriff William Sheron Jr. said his office “stands ready to assist in any way possible those individuals and families who are combatting addiction.”
“Addiction can affect anyone, anytime. We are available; our doors are always open, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Please do not hesitate to reach out and together we can work to overcome addiction within our communities,” he said.
Batavia Fire Chief Josh Graham said his department will continue to partner with the other agencies in PAARI to provide a safe place where anyone suffering from addiction can come to help.
“When I first learned about the PAARI program within the City of Batavia Fire Department, I was immediately impressed with the idea,” he mentioned. “Doing everything we can to aid in the fight against opioids is imperative.”
Peer advocates at UConnectCare are available at all hours to assist those who utilize the PAARI program, said Melissa Vinyard, a certified peer recovery coach and someone in recovery.
“My fellow peers and I get the opportunity to go reach out and offer a hand to help those who suffer with SUD,” she said. “For that, I truly believe we are responsible. It is my privilege to give back to our community what was so freely given to me.”
Residents seeking treatment or prevention services can also access the GOW Linkage to Care App. The free app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play by searching “GOW Opioid Linkage to Care.”
The Genesee County PAARI locations are as follows:
— City of Batavia Fire Department, 18 Evans St., Batavia, (585) 345-6375.
— City of Batavia Police, 10 West Main St., Batavia, (585) 345-6350.
— Genesee County Sheriff, 165 Park Rd., Batavia, (585) 345-3000.
— Le Roy Police, 3 West Main St., Le Roy, (585) 768-2527