Bags of fentanyl pills
Bags of fentanyl pills. Courtesy Drug Enforcement Administration

San Diego County supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday in favor of a set of policies and tools, including an education program, to combat the fentanyl crisis.

The board voted after a presentation by the Behavioral Health Services department, which focused on several strategies intended to reduce overdoses and deaths.

Nick Macchione, Health and Human Services Agency director, said the fentanyl crisis has impacted many people in San Diego County and that he was proud of the recommendations and initial plan.

Supervisors voted in late June to declare fentanyl a public health emergency.

Along with formally receiving an update on the health emergency, supervisors approved funding for:

  • expanded distribution of naloxone in vending machines and having first responders leave the medication that can help prevent overdose deaths with patients
  • the Health and Human Services Agency/Behavioral Health Services department to develop overdose prevention education and public health messaging
  • the Public Safety Group, fire department and Emergency Medical Services to develop a mapping program that shows the date, time and location of overdoses
  • HHSA Public Health Services and Behavioral Health Services to conduct overdose surveillance, investigation, response, evaluation and administration, and using $4.8 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for it

The board also authorized the HHSA to apply for other funding to support overdose prevention and response.

According to information on the board meeting agenda, salary costs will come from the opioid lawsuit settlement or other funding sources, including grants.

Supervisor Joel Anderson praised county staff for a proactive approach.

“I’m really excited to see this roll out because it’s going to have a tremendous impact on our communities,” he added.

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer said she hopes the plan can make a difference in San Diego and stem the tide of the opioid epidemic.

“When we see death rates rising so steeply, it’s really a classic situation of where we’re pulling people out of the river,” Lawson-Remer said.

She added the goal is to “fix the bridge, where people are falling into the water.”

Supervisor Jim Desmond was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

City News Service contributed to this article.