Chattanooga Fire Departments start Safe Stations Program

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(CHATTANOOGA, Tenn) – Chattanooga Fire Departments kicked off their safe stations program today to help fight opioid addiction.

“These are our neighbors, these are our friends, these are our family. We have to do something to help them. That’s why I am proud to announce today that each and every one of our fire stations is going to be a ‘Safe Station’ 24 hours from now on,” said Chattanooga Mayor, Andy Berke.

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Part of the reason they chose the fire stations is because they have highly trained fire department employees in every part of Chattanooga.

“Over the last decade, Tennesseans have been struggling with opioid addiction. We are the second highest state for prescribed opioids and the tenth highest state for opioid related deaths,” said Joeli Poole, News 12 reporter.

Mayor Berke says one thing he loves about Chattanooga is that they aren’t afraid of a challenge and that the city has to respond to this opioid problem.

The fire stations want people to understand you are safe by coming to them and they are here to help you by connecting you to the resources that can further help you.

Nu start is one of the many resources the fire department may connect you to.

It is designed to help people with opioid dependencies by doing whatever it takes to get them on that road to recovery.

“You know a lot of people there’s that stigma of drug addiction and people don’t know where to turn and their embarrassed or ashamed. Were here to help them do all the leg work. If they don’t know where to begin that’s what were here for, we will help them get what they need,” said Leslie Lay, Nu Start program coordinator.

Fire Chief Phil Hyman says his fire fighters have been trained on opioid reversals for years.

“So this is not new to us, this is part of our training, its been on going for a number of years. Were just trying to figure out another way that we can help our community solve this crisis,” said Chattanooga Fire Chief, Phil Hyman.

Mayor Berke wants people to know that the The fire station is filled with first responders but its not just about fighting fires.

“We usually think about that as being a fire or an emergency somewhere out in a neighborhood but for many people who are addicted to opioids they need a different kind of first responder and were going to be there for them too,” said Mayor Andy Berke.

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Joeli Poole joined the WDEF News 12 Team in April 2019 as a Reporter and Producer. You can find her reporting during the week and when not on camera; she's producing the 6 and 11 shows. Joeli grew up with a love for reporting, starting in middle school. She has been the anchor for her middle and high school TV stations, along with the Sports Anchor for her College TV Station. Joeli grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and moved to Tennessee when she 10 years old. She went to Cleveland Middle school and Walker Valley High School. She graduated in May of 2019 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor's degree in Communications. Being from the area, Joeli loves being able to help tell the stories of her community. In her spare time, Joeli enjoys watching her LSU Tigers, hiking, and playing with her dog. Feel free to email any story ideas at jpoole@wdef.com.