SPOAC – Meeting Update

Last night I attend the first South Pittsburgh Opioid Action Coalition (SPOAC) Meeting of 2018. The meeting was full of great information and very passionate conversation. SPOAC started about six months ago and is facilitated by PA Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center. Members of the coalition are from various backgrounds including law enforcement, government, non-profits, church groups and people in recovery.

SPOAC hosted their first event in December and had a very good turnout. Last night we listened to Dan Swayze of Center for Emergency Medicine talk about community paramedicine. Community paramedicine is a corner piece of The PORT. We had questions for Dan about paramedicine and how The PORT works.


I have never heard of community paramedicine before and after hearing about it I was just amazed and encouraged. The idea behind community paramedicine is to be a person’s advocate. The key advantage is that community paramedicine staff are medical professionals. Many times when a person is suffering from a mental health condition, seemly simple tasks are very difficult. Paramedicine is there to help, they are advocates for the person.

Community paramedicine (CP) is a new and evolving model of community-based health care in which paramedics function outside their customary emergency response and transport roles in ways that facilitate more appropriate use of emergency care resources and/or enhance access to primary care for medically underserved …Jul 1, 2013 – UPMC

The example that was given was a bus driver who suffered a stroke and seizure. The bus driver lost their job because the condition would make it dangerous for them to perform. As a result, the person lost their income, health insurance and so much more not even considering the effects of the medical event. Community paramedicine would provide a team to help the person, they would help with scheduling appointments, filing out paperwork to get medical assistance and just be there for them to advocate for their well being. The thought of all of these additional items that now need to be handled can and would be overwhelming and affect a person’s mental wellbeing. Their mental wellbeing would then affect their physical well being and cause so many more problems.


The PORT (Post Overdose Response Team) would have community paramedicine professionals as a core component. Professionals that are trained to help and understand the many programs that are available but are so hard to navigate and find.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement will also be key players on The PORT, they will be there to help and show compassion to people who are struggling. The stigma on mental illness is not alone, many people don’t look at law enforcement as people who are there to help. Having them part of The PORT is there to change that and be there to help people struggling. The end goal is to help the person on a path to recovery, which would make them contributing members of society again.

Recovery Is Powerful

I know many people in recovery and I have to say that so many are just amazing people who are giving back to help others. Compassion and empathy is so visible in them. That is the purpose we started a series called “The Shine”, a person in recovery truly shines their compassion and love as they try to give back.There is so much more to learn and understand about The PORT and I am excited to have an opportunity to be working with these dedicated and passionate people. I am working on having Dan join me on a video for a more detailed discussion about The PORT and Community Paramedicine.

%d bloggers like this: